Potting out the Plantlets and a Bit of Harvesting

I was thinking about just adding an update to last night’s post, but most readers who have read last night’s post are hardly likely to re-read it, so I am adding this as a short new post.

I decided to pot up the plants in this pic:

2014-07-30 17.28.41

As you can see from the ruler, they grew enormously during the week that I was away. So I decided to set to and transfer them to outdoor containers. This is how they look:

2014-07-31 19.24.22

Three plants in ordinary buckets, one in a fairly big, wide container and one in a tallish pot. (Note the usual 30 cm ruler for scale leaning against the pot.

Also:

2014-07-31 19.23.42

That container is made of glass. It used to be a fish tank. I can’t remember how I came by it. I suspect that Daughter 1 asked me to store it for her several years ago and it has been in the back garden ever since.

All the pots have layers of compost and soil. In fact, in the last pic, you can see the layers. The grey stripes are soil and the black ones are compost. I bought four bags of ‘gypsy compost’, as Daughter 1 called it (street traders who might well have been gypsies for all I know), towards the end of last year. I feared earlier in the year that it might contain slugs or slugs eggs. If it contained eggs, you would have thought that they would have become slugs by now. I didn’t see any, but what I did see was hundreds of baby worms. I only saw a couple of grown up worms – they must have been ‘having it off’ to some tune!

I don’t really expect much from these plants. To start with, it is very late in the year now. It is more in the nature of an experiment. The glass container might make it possible to see the roots as they grow, and the different sized containers might affect the growth rates of the plants. That will be interesting to know.

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Considering how badly damaged the plants were by slugs in May, I have been surprised how well the plants have developed. I was even more surprised that I was able, today, to do a bit of harvesting. Not a lot, but sufficient to be worthwhile. Here is a pic:

2014-07-31 21.47.02

Rather blurred, I’m afraid, but good enough at this time of night. Those are the very bottom-most leaves which have gone pale green or actually yellow. They needed to be rinsed to remove detritus – warm water and a rub with the hands is all that’s needed. At the moment, they are just draining. Before I go to bed, I’ll just wrap them in a bath-towel overnight so that they do not start to dry out prematurely. Tomorrow, I’ll start the process of towelling and wadding. Those that have turned completely, or almost completely, yellow will be wadded right away, but the greener ones will be towelled for a few days. These processes are fully described in the “GROWING Etc” essay linked to in the sidebar.

(I hope that regular readers are not bored by all this stuff. The thing is that I get a lot of new visitors who are interested in the subject)

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I think that the last couple of updates about the plants should suffice for the time being. Let’s hope for the best.

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2 Responses to “Potting out the Plantlets and a Bit of Harvesting”

  1. J Brown Says:

    This brings up some of the ‘confusion’ that I have encountered when wondering as to how to process my leaves. While I understand the ‘toweling’ process – which, in my mind, is a substitute for the color curing that growers in better climates do by hanging their plants until the leaves change color. But on some of those sites, they hang the leaves beyond the yellow stage – until the leaves are brown. Then, when they ‘ferment’ (wad) them, they are misted, if necessary, for the fermentation stage. Are you wadding when the leaves are basically yellow, and then using the wadding to brown and ferment them? I remember initially we were wadding for a number of days – I seem to recall that you have decided to shorten the time on this. The wadded leaves, after a number of days, would be paper thin. I imagine this is something we are trying to avoid?? And sorry for all the question!! 🙂

    • junican Says:

      Hi J.
      I think that towelling is a substitute for using a kiln or a barn. The initial phase is getting the green leaves to go yellow. The temperature in that phase should be warm and the humidity of the air quite high. The propagator keeps the temperature warm and the towel soaks up moisture slowly. Before I got the propagator, I put the towels in the hot water cylinder cupboard, which had much the same effect. Also, if you remember, I invented the ‘hot box’, which also worked.
      Wadding is an interesting idea. You may have read in places that some people pile leaves on top of each other and compress them with weights. Wadding is also a form of compression. In barns and kilns, the temperature is raised to force fermentation. I think that wadding achieves this because the wads are placed in a sealed container. That has the effect of holding the moisture inside and helping the wadded leaves to get quite warm.
      By using these processes, we are copying the essential ideas of commercial processes, without anything like their accuracy, of course.

      Are you wadding when the leaves are basically yellow, and then using the wadding to brown and ferment them?

      Whether they go brown or not is not important to me in itself. I am only interested in the fermentation. As I’m sure you know, different tobaccos finish up different shades of brown. For example, the stuff that I have bought comes in different shades – Virginia is quite yellow, ‘Red Virginia’ is somewhat browner, and Burley is browner still.You will have observed that cigars are a very dark brown.

      I remember initially we were wadding for a number of days – I seem to recall that you have decided to shorten the time on this. The wadded leaves, after a number of days, would be paper thin. I imagine this is something we are trying to avoid??

      I got the wadding idea from a YouTube video. The guy used the word ‘tobacco’, but I think that he really meant ‘cannabis’. (It is interesting that that video was later deleted)
      That video said wad for seven to ten days, and that I was why I wadded for so long initially. It was only when I started to read more detail about how leaves were fermented commercially that I realised that a week to ten days was far too long. Commercially, fermentation takes place over only two or three days.
      You are right about the thinning of the leaves, which, I think, occurred because I was wadding for far too long. Also, the leaves got darker and darker – almost black. My new plan (which I had already introduced towards the end of the last season) is to wad the leaves only until they start to go brown.
      Further, because different parts of the leaves start to go brown before others, I snipped off those parts which had browned somewhat and re-wadded the rest of the leaves. It doesn’t matter that I am chopping the leaves up because I’m going to shred and chop them anyway!

      So off we go! I’ll e-mail you as I go along over the next few days with some pics.

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