Saturday, September 6, 2014
Growing Tobacco Post Collapse
My Tobacco plants have been blooming for a few weeks now and I managed to get the first few seed pods saved. On the base of the blooms is a round pod that turns brown after the flower has dried up and contains millions of seeds so small you can barely see them, so even one Tobacco plant will produce enough seeds in one season to last you a lifetime although I am not sure how long the seeds will store.
There are many reasons you might consider for growing Tobacco now or to plan on growing it in a post collapse scenario. The first thing that comes to mind is for trading purposes. Although as far as I know it is illegal to sell it unless you have an agricultural permit to do so. It is not illegal to grow it however. I started out growing it just to see if I could but quickly found out the plant has a number of beneficial qualities in a home garden.
For one thing both types of Hornworms seem to prefer Tobacco leaves over Tomato and Pepper leaves. This discovery has saved me countless time and Tomatoes over the years and allowed me to grow said Tomato plants almost totally chemical free. I put a row of Tobacco plants outside my Tomato rows and have found the Tobacco leaves are so much easier to detect damage on. Before growing the Tobacco as companion plants I would sometimes spend hours just trying to find the Hornworms hidden among the thick Tomato foliage. These same worms are much easier to find on the Tobacco plants and it is much easier to spy leaf damage as well since the Tobacco plants don't vine all over the place. Those big wide leaves allow you to find and dispose of the hornworms quickly.
If you happen to have a chipper/shredder I have found the thick Tobacco stalks chop up into mulch quite easily and then break down at a rate faster than using standard wood chips. This is beneficial if you are using your mulch to help as a slow decomposing fertilizer or wish to add the shredded material to your compost pile.
My Honey bees will occasionally work the Tobacco blooms but I think the nectar is a bit far down into the neck of the flower to attract them heavily. Bumblebees and Hummingbirds however LOVE Tobacco blooms and are constantly working them. This is beneficial because Hummingbirds really consume more small insects than they do nectar so having Hummingbirds in your garden reduces your insect load especially in the smaller insect categories.
There are a few natural pest sprays that can be made with crushed Tobacco leaves along with other ingredients so having your own ready to cut Tobacco plants would certainly help there. I haven't tried any of them but ya never know.
Of course in a post collapse situation growing Tobacco could prove beneficial as a trade-able commodity especially if you know how to cure it properly. There are several different ways of curing tobacco but all of them seem to have a similar step that requires fermenting the leaves. In order to do this properly it really requires a few more plants than any gardener would normally grow. I know there are ways to attempt to ferment smaller batches I have read about but so far I have had no luck pulling it off however if I doubled my plantings I could easily get enough leaves to make a bail and allow the fermenting to take place naturally. Or I assume I could.
Tobacco is one of those plants that at one time was commonly grown by just about everyone and now sits on the edge of an abyss ready to be lost to the average grower. In a way Tobacco and Honey Bees share a kinship in this regard as just about every old timer can remember growing Tobacco and keeping bees though few do either today. I have talked with a number of old farmers who remember their grandfathers growing and curing it but I have had little luck in tracking down which varieties they planted.
My guess is in a post collapse situation learning to grow and cure your own Tobacco would net you some good bartering material for necessities.
And just think no outrageous government taxes to deal with either.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!