What a treat to read this handsome, well thought out, step-by-step illustrated guide to growing and drying tobacco. Author and horticulturist Ray French summarizes the history of growing tobacco and then explains how age-old growing practices have now become a part of the easy, sustainable, organic methods for the home gardener in his book entitled: How to Grow Your Own Tobacco: From Seed to Smoke. While French obviously enjoys tobacco, his passion for organic gardening comes through loud and strong. In his introduction he says, “I loved growing tobacco in my backyard, and I truly enjoyed ordering the seed, planting the seed, growing the plants, curing the harvest, and sharing it.” The book covers organic production techniques that can apply to other plants as well.
According to French, tobacco grew naturally in the wild, although there is evidence of its cultivation dating back to 6,000 B.C.E. The Mayans were one of the first to spread its use as far north as the Mississippi Valley between 470 and 630 C.E. Many of the Native Americans mixed tobacco with other aromatic herbs and smoked it as crude cigars. These and many other interesting facts of tobacco history are covered in chapter 2 as well as in “Tobacco Tidbits” sections throughout the book. I found chapter 3 to be helpful as it covered the grades, types, and varieties of tobacco and was heavily illustrated. Tobacco grades are based on the stalk position of the leaf, the color of the leaf, and other physical properties such as leaf thickness, oil content, flexibility and so forth. The chapter on harvesting, drying, and curing tobacco was fun to read as well. A resource for seeds and supplies is also included. In “How to Grow Your Own Tobacco” you will learn a lot about the tobacco that makes up the cigars you smoke. Your walk through the humidor will never be the same. You may even be motivated to grow some of your own tobacco in your backyard and start rolling some of your own handcrafted cigars in the near future!
Author: Ray French
Publisher: Cool Springs Press