Prepare the garden for moving the plants outside
The first step before moving the plants outside is to prepare the location where you are going to put them. As I have not used my greenhouse since 2016 I had a lot of weeds to remove from the growing beds. It was a lot of weeds and a lot of roots in the soil and small willows as well.
Besides the weeds, my neighbor’s hens have used the beds as a food trough disturbing the soil regularly. I had to put up a makeshift fence to keep them out or they would have destroyed the delicate plants.
My new beds
Last time I grew tobacco I planted half of the plants outside in separate pots. But that was a lot of work with watering and they fell over in a strong wind. This year I decided to put half the plants in eight new beds using pallet rims. In each bed I used 4 bags of soil, each containing 40 liters (10.6 gal).
I placed 4 rims at a wall facing south and 4 facing west where they will have a good amount of sun each day. The place doesn’t have sunlight the whole day, but it’s the best place on my site where I live. Lack of sun will produce plants with poor growth and thin leaves.
Soil and pH level
Tobacco plants grow best in slightly acidic soil with a pH of around 5.8. If the pH is higher you probably will have poor growth of your plants. I have not tested my soil with a pH-meter, but on the soil-bags, I bought I can read that the soil I’m using has a pH-level of 6.2, a bit higher, but I’ve used the same soil before without a problem.
Move the plants out into the garden
As I live in the middle of Sweden we have had night frost throughout most of May, so I could not start moving my plants outside until the last weekend of May and the first week of June. As usual, the plants look a bit faint a couple of days after moving them outside. It takes a couple of weeks before the roots begin to develop and the plant begins to grow. It is recommended that the plant is 150-200 mm (6-8 inches) before you move them outside. My largest plants were probably over that and the smallest one slightly under. But after a week outside all my plants are still alive and slowly begin to develop new leaves.
Water the tobacco each day
To ensure that the tobacco has enough water you have to water each day to prevent drought. But that is not a problem as I writing this as it has been raining for almost 3 days. But as the plant grows they need a lot of water but don’t over-water. The soil should be moist without being soggy and wet. When the plant has settled you can water a bit less frequently, but keep an eye on the soil so it don’t dry out.
You can fertilize your tobacco plants with the same type used for tomatoes and peppers. It should only contain nitrate nitrogen and low content of chlorine. Read the directions for the fertilizer you use so you don’t over-fertilize your plants. You can apply fertilizer several times until the plant begins to flower and the need for fertilizer is no longer needed. It is also a good thing to rotate your growing place as the tobacco plant depletes the nutrients in the soil in about 2 years.
Topping the plants
As the flower begins to develop it’s recommended that you remove the flower bud. This allows the leaves at the top to grow larger as the plant doesn’t have to use energy to grow the flower. You simply breaking the flower or cut it with scissors before the flower opens. But if you want seeds for coming seasons you can save a couple of flowers and let them develop seeds.
I have Shirey seeds to last me a lifetime from when I last grew tobacco in 2016. I did not top the plants then and got seeds in almost every flower. After you have topped the plant you should also remove the suckers developing at each leaf. If you don’t the quality and yield will not be optimal. Suckers are small leaves developing at the stem of the larger leaves. This is similar to tomato plants if you have experience of growing those.
Remove weeds from the bed
Remove any weeds from the beds as it appears as it will otherwise suck the nutrients from the soil competing with the tobacco plant. You can also loosen the soil around the base of the plant for 3-4 weeks to strengthen it. But don’t dig too deep as you may damage the thin-hair like roots. After that only scrape of any weeds around the plant.
The only pest I have previously experienced in my garden are snails that eat from the leaves. I have tried the snail-trap with beer, but that quickly becomes gross if you don’t clean it every day. I have read that copper wire or copper sheet protects against snails. The snail avoids the copper as it conducts a small current when the snail moves past it. I have not tried that myself, but it may be an option if it is a ”snail-year”.
Sodium silicate - Water glass
Another thing to try against snail is sodium silicate in a water solution, a substance used for preservation of raw eggs in older times, also called water glass. The reaction with the CO2 in the air seals the pores of the eggshell and forms a white semi-solid mass. I have read that snails avoid the alkaline solution, but I have no experience with it, but can become handy if I get a lot of snails on my plants this season.
If you have a problem with other things infesting your tobacco, you should be able to buy tobacco-specific pesticides.
After a long, warm and sunny (hopefully) summer it’s time for harvest and curing of the tobacco. But first I will enjoy the long warm summer. Bookmark this site and come back and read more about this project, from seed to Swedish snus.
Part one: Planting the seeds.
Part two: Re-potting the seedlings.
Leave a comment
What is your experience of growing tobacco? Leave a comment and let me know.
Take it easy and snus on. Anderscomments powered by Disqus