Smokers Fight Back By Growing Their Own Tobacco
With the base price and taxes sharply increasing on tobacco products many partakers of the golden leaf are beginning to take matters into their own hands. Now appearing in the home garden beside the tomatoes and green beans are the elephantine leaves of the tobacco plant.
Some seed suppliers report a tenfold increase in sales as some of the country’s 43.3 million smokers look for a cheaper way to enjoy their chosen form of tobacco product.
On average cigarettes cost $4.35 a pack – home growers can make that amount for about 30 cents.
Seedman.com has sold more than 100,000 packets of tobacco seeds this year, compared with 22,000 in all of 2008, said president Jim Johnson. The Gautier, Mississippi based company offers 40 varieties of tobacco from around the globe and packages various flavor blends for first-time growers.
A grower who purchases one of Johnson’s Oriental and Turkish blends for $24.50 could satisfy a pack-a-day habit for more than three years, according to Johnson’s calculations.
Also, be aware that as long as tobacco isn’t sold or traded, the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate homegrown tobacco.
Now the Downside
You’re not surprised there’s a downside are you? Well there is, and number one on the list is growing tobacco is labor intensive. That’s one reason cigarette companies make all that money. Of course, labor intensive varies in definition between the seasoned and gentleman farmer. One man’s sweat factory is another man’s day in the park.
Another consideration is that the plants are susceptible to an army of pests. You must top or prune each plant to encourage leaf growth and must rotate them every few years. A proper chemical soil balance is also required. When each row of leaves is ready, they must be cut and hung to dry.
A seed started in March can be ready to smoke as soon as October. Some anxious growers have gone as far as microwaving leaves to hasten the drying. For purists, the leaves are cured (aged) like a fine wine for up to three years.
How to Get Started
Novices and veterans can find smoker-friendly havens like howtogrowtobacco.com, a Web site that offers growing and curing tips.
At this point, I wouldn’t be very responsible if I didn’t at least remind you that smoking is bad for you – but to be fair so are a lot of other things we do.
No matter if you find this topic particularly useful or not you should realize that it goes deeper than the obvious. It encourages and rewards personal initiative.
The sharp stick in the eye toward the Nanny State is just a bonus.