Beneficial Uses of Backyard Tobacco

Take the taboo out of growing tobacco, and consider its lesser known but far-reaching beneficial uses.

Photo by Terry Wild Stock

When we first started growing tobacco, we were afraid of what others might think. However, we knew we wouldn’t be selling it for smoking purposes, and homegrown tobacco is a versatile product. It can add wonderful flavor to your dishes when you bake with it, juice it, or even boil it for tea. It can also lend a helping hand in the garden as an insecticide.

So, we set out to grow and harvest Virginia heirloom tobacco. We didn’t choose the Virginia variety for any particular reason. The seed company we chose offered three types: Connecticut, Virginia, and Hawaii. We just picked one, and, luckily, it turned out to be a great producer. Because it’s legal in our state to grow as much tobacco as we want, as long as the tobacco is for personal use only, we ordered 100 seeds, just in case all the seeds didn’t germinate.

Tobacco acts as a natural insecticide, making it a great solution for ridding your garden of pests. Photo by  Carol Jacobs Norwood

Watch Them Grow

We learned two valuable lessons during the first germination process: Follow directions, and wait patiently. Both were hard for us, as we liked to think we knew best, and patience is just plain difficult when you’re excited to see the end product. On our first attempt, we thought we could speed up the process by using grow lights. After a couple of weeks under the grow lights, and even though we misted the seeds often, the heat was too much, and the soil was too dry for the seeds to develop.

Our second attempt was a success and produced many sprouts. We kept the seeds covered and in a dark, moist, cool location. After one week, we started to see sprouts. It was exciting. Even though we pampered the sprouts, we had to wait another three or four weeks before we could begin transplanting them to larger containers and eventually into the ground. When all was said and done, we planted around 50 tobacco plants. Once planted in the ground, they began to grow fast.

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