When I’m not listening to podcasts or socializing when smoking a cigar, I’m usually reading. Sometimes it’s something in the fantasy genre, or something having something to do with Cuba or cigars. When the opportunity came my way to read and review a book about growing tobacco, I had to jump at it. Now, I have a black thumb, I don’t know what’s a weed and whats a regular plant, and I’m not a fan of gardening. My wife, daughter and son-in-law are the gardeners in the family. Along with the several visits to cigar country I’ve made this year, I knew the subject matter would leave me overwhelmed and confused. Fortunately, “How To Grow Your Own Tobacco Freom Seed To Smoke” by Ray French, breaks the process down pretty neatly.
I started reading this with a nice little E.P. Carillo New Wave Connecticut Stellas (5.125″ x 42) that I had recently purchased at one of the nearby shops, G&G Cigars In West Chester, PA. This lovely little corona isn’t your standard, mild Connecticut shade wrapped cigar. Side bar: There seems to be a trend toward Connecticut shade wrapped cigars that aren’t mild, leaving us stuck with silly cliches like “this isn’t your mother’s shade cigar” or nonsense like that. I blame Christian for starting this with the CT (I’ve grown weary of typing Connecticut) shade Camacho. Always the trendsetter, that guy…Anyway, good cigar, look forward to trying it in a larger size one of these days.
Back to the book. Mr. French touches on several varieties of tobacco that he’s grown, some of which are good for cigars, others for cigarettes, pipes and chew. As I said before, there are SO many steps involved with getting one darned plant to grow, it seems impossible that they can plant fields of the things and have enough of a harvest. I may have to get my hands on some broadleaf seed and try this out on a small scale. We are fairly avid composters, although our yard lacks sufficient space to plant more than a few plants. It might be interesting to follow the steps in the book and try to make some tobacco grow here in south-east, PA. I know the Amish grow varieties of tobacco all the time, so it can’t be as hard as it sounds (if any Amish folks are reading this…..er…..strike that…). Beside discussing soil and fertilizers, he talks about insect control as well. Everything is approached organically too.
I read the second half of the book with an old favorite, the Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 Robusto Grande. This is a strong cigar that’s supposed to be a strong cigar! Not as strong as it’s Dark Corojo sibling, it’s still a nice, full-bodied cigar with loads of flavor. I can remember years ago smoking the JdN and not caring for them, I suppose because they were pretty mild in the late 90s. Then they came out with the Antaño line, and I really started to enjoy them. Having visited the factory, I find myself with a deeper appreciation for their cigars. One of my favorites now is the Cabinetta, which is a milder cigar. Figure that one out!
Anyway, the book, “How To Grow Your Own Tobacco Freom Seed To Smoke” by Ray French, is a nice primer if growing your own tobacco is something that piques your interest. I especially like the detailed journal provided at the end to track the various stages of planting, growing, harvesting and curing, as well as links to sources to purchase seeds on line. Thanks to the publisher, Cool Springs Press for contacting me and providing me with the copy. The book is available at Amazon.com and, I’m sure, your local book store.
That’s it for now, until the next time,