Several years ago, I honestly don’t remember exactly when, I read an article in Cigar Aficionado about a guy in Great Falls, Virginia that grew his own tobacco, and had it rolled into cigars. Inspired, I bought some books, did a ton of internet research, and then decided to go for it. That first season I learned that growing tobacco is relatively easy. I learned about grow lights, propagating seeds, growing seedlings indoors, and then planting after the last freeze. While this took a lot of research, it wasn’t all together difficult. Once outdoors, my tobacco plants thrived. I had a few seasons where I had a small insect problem, but really it was just a matter of keeping the plants watered regularly. After the harvest is when things get difficult. One must build a kiln, live where its constantly warm with 75% humidity, or get creative and lucky. I opted for the latter. I bought a space heater and some air tight containers. I used cigar humidifiers, and tried to keep my tobacco warm and humid, while I tried to ferment and age it. The first year I let the tobacco dry out too much. I lost the oils that give tobacco its flavor. The second year, and every year but last year, I let the tobacco mold. The tobacco, fermented and aged my way, requires almost daily attention. It just has to breathe and be rotated, but weekends, vacations, and life tend to get in the way. Last year I managed to get my tobacco fermented without mold, and then let it age a bit drier than normal. I also used some alcohol (bourbon) to slow mold growth, which has not be scientifically proved to be effective, but is a fairly common practice. It seemed to work for me. I lost about 80% or more of my harvest to mold, being dried out, and other problems. That may sound bad, but this year was the first year I ended up with smokable fermented and aged tobacco. It smelled good, looked right, so I put some in a pipe. It was good, but a bit strong. I decided to buy a Virginia tobacco pipe blend, and mix my own tobacco into it, to make for a more enjoyable result. I pulled my can out when a friend came over. We each smoked a bowl, and found it to be very pleasant and enjoyable. So after what must have been at least five years, I’d finally enjoyed some success with my tobacco project.
This summer has been a great growing season. Its not going to be my biggest harvest. I had about 20 plants my first year. But it looks to be my highest quality harvest every. My leaves are big and full with no insect damage. I’ve used no pesticides or chemicals of any kind. If my plan was to grow leaves for wrapper, I’d probably be doing pretty well right now. However, I’m going to continue to work on fermenting and aging my tobacco. I also want to improve my blending. Once I get a good pipe tobacco made entirely of my own harvest, maybe I’ll think about cigars again. For now, I have my hands full, and plenty more to learn.This entry was posted in Cigars, Uncategorized by rsiv with no comments yet