Stephen Brown, in a comment on “The GROWING Etc Essay”, has given a pretty comprehensive reason for the leaves on tobacco plants grown indoors to be small. Here it is:
Junican, with regard to the leaf-size conundrum all is answered by considering the amount of direct light the plant is receiving. For a fair proportion of the day a plant growing on a window-ledge indoors is not going to be in DIRECT sunlight. Plants in a greenhouse will be subjected to direct sunlight for a much larger proportion of the day. All plants need direct sunlight in order to power their photosynthesis process, turning CO2 and other nutrients into complex sugars (amongst other things). Essentially, direct sunlight can be considered to be a plant ‘food’, necessary for growth.
A garden plant growing on the north side of a hedge is going to be substantially smaller than a similar plant growing on the south side of the same hedge. It’s because of the difference in direct sunlight. Basically, a plant grown indoors without constant exposure to direct sunlight is starving and will be stunted in its growth.
A reasonable guide as to how much extra lighting indoor plants need in order to achieve anything like their out-door size is the amount of energy consumed by marijuana growers use to cultivate their indoor crops. The Police now can spot the premises used for this purpose by the heat signature of the expensive and powerful lighting systems they use!
Now I think that we are getting somewhere! The three plants which I grew inside were in the best possible place in the house - on a window ledge in a South-facing bedroom. But, in summer especially, the reality is that they would in fact not get much direct light. This is because the sun rises in the East and does not shine into that bedroom. By the time that the sun has got round to hitting that room, it is very high in the sky, and so the sunlight is very much at an angle. Later, as the sun begins to fall, that room is again not in direct sunlight. So the leaves are possibly receiving only a quarter of the direct light that they should be.
That has given me an idea for next year. It will involve me in a lot of fetching and carrying, but what the hell. The idea is this. For ease of carrying about, I shall use only two buckets. After sundown, I’ll put the buckets on the kitchen window ledge which faces East. Thus, they will be in direct light as soon as the sun rises. Later, when the sun moves around, I’ll transfer them to the bedroom facing South. In the evening, I’ll put then in the porch which faces West where they will get the evening light.
Should be interesting…..
Last year, when I began to harvest my first crop, I was at a loss to figure out an easy way to shred the leaves. I tried a kitchen blender, but that did not work – they just spun around and around with the blades. Then I bought a little grinder just to see if that would work, but it involved a lot of work without being very effective. At the time, however, I was not drying the leaves out fully. Readers will know that I now dry the leaves out so much that the crumble into small flakes, which saves a lot of messing about trying to cut them into very thin strips like rolling tobacco. Flakes make fags just as well and the ash behaves just the same as normal – it does not drop off. Perhaps, as the tobacco scraps burn (at about 600°C) the flakes, in effect, ‘melt’ together so that the ash sticks together just enough.
I was making up some fags this evening. The tobacco flakes are fine, but in among them are lots of little hard bits which come from the remnants of the mid and minor ribs. They can be a nuisance, when tubing, by piercing the sides of the tubes or blocking the sliding action of the tube over the tobacco. It really is a nuisance to have to check the tobacco first for lumps and hard bits before starting making fags.
Then I remembered the little grater and fished it out. I was quite surprised how well it works with very dry tobacco. Here is a pic of some tobacco after being grated:
Now, bitty though the tobacco seems to be, it is perfect for tubing. It only took me about ten minutes to do sufficient for me to tube about 25 fags tomorrow, after the tobacco has been sealed in its container with the gauze pouch (which now contains both whiskey-soaked cotton wool and orange peel) overnight.
Here are a couple of pics of the grater:
It’s only about 3cm across, but it is OK for the time being. It cost a quid from a stall in the market. The silvery bits in the middle are magnets. I suppose their purpose is to hold the two parts together when it is not in use. Maybe I’ll buy a bigger one next time I am in town.