Growing tobacco at home is a growing interest by gardeners and smokers alike. Gardeners are discovering many tobacco plants are beautiful ornamentals that produce fragrant flowers, and smokers are interested in growing tobacco to reduce their personal costs. Regardless of why you want to grow tobacco, however, there are no special supplies or tools needed for growing the plants. They are heavy feeders, however, and they need extra nitrogen and potash while growing.
Tobacco seeds aren't sold in most garden supply stores or catalogs, but they can be found through online specialty retailers. Once you have found a reliable tobacco seed source, you will then need to select one or more types of tobacco seeds to grow. While most tobacco plants grow at least 5 feet high, some varieties will grow taller or shorter than others, and this should be taken into consideration when selecting your seeds if you are planning to grow all of the plants in the same bed or field. If taller plants provide too much shade for the smaller plants, that can cause growth problems for the smaller varieties. Different tobacco seeds also produce different flavors of end products too, so when tobacco is grown for chewing or smoking purposes, the seed selection becomes even more important.
Seed Beds or Flats
Tobacco seeds are quite small, so many people prefer to start them in a seed bed or using indoor sprouting flats, then transplant them outside once they're a few weeks old and the leaves are at least 2 inches long.
Tobacco seeds need light to germinate. Moisten the growing medium and then lightly scatter the seeds evenly in the seed bed or growing pots. Keep the seeds moist and they will sprout within one to two weeks.
Use healthy organic potting soil or potting soil enhanced with potash and nitrogen in the seed beds. If you plan to transplant your seeds outdoors after they have sprouted, then be sure to prepare the outdoor planting bed or field by mixing in healthy potting soil, compost, manure and potash as well.
Compost or Manure
Tobacco is a very greedy plant that can quickly deplete the soil of important minerals and nutrients. One item tobacco needs plenty of is nitrogen, and you can supply this by mixing in aged compost or manure when you transplant the seedlings to the outdoor garden bed. Depending upon the quality of the soil, you may need to add additional enhancements and fertilizers throughout the growing season. Tobacco plants are generally ready to harvest and cure about 60 days after transplanting.
Tobacco plants are frequently attacked by various leaf chewing bugs such as cutworms, grasshoppers and aphids. Fungus related diseases can also be problematic, and some of these include black root rot, tobacco mosaic, bacterial leaf spot and downy mildew. While chemical pesticides are available and can help with these common problems, if you plan to grow tobacco for smoking or chewing you may want to consider organic alternatives to ensure you're not introducing additional harmful chemicals into your body.