Family: Nightshade (Solanaceae)
A most popular yet maligned herb. One of the attractions for smokers may be the cotinine content of tobacco, a molecule that seems to prevent memory loss and anxiety and may also prevent early onset of dementia/alzheimers. Tobacco is a heavy feeder, and likes a well-fertilized soil and a side-dressing of good compost or rotted manure. 80 days to maturity. Sow seed in the spring or early summer in flats or directly on a fine seedbed. Press hard into surface of soil (light-dependent germinator). Do not allow to dry out or freeze. Germ in 10 to 14 days. Transplant or thin seedlings to 1 to 2 foot spacing.
Individual packets of Night-blooming Aztec (Nicotiana alata), Desert (Nicotiana trigonophylla), Hopi (Nicotiana rustica), Huichol (Nicotiana langsdorfii), Oneida (N. rustica) Scherazi smoking tobacco (N. tabacum) and Virginia Smoking (N. tabacum). (Price shown is at a discount.)(Price shown is at a discount.)
There are many different methods for curing tobacco, but the easiest is to pick the leaves when they get a tinge of yellow on them, then hang them in an open shed or under the eaves. You can string them on a piece of bailing wire or strong string. Set it up so that the leaves dry out during the day and pick up moisture at night. This is how they cure. Once the leaves have lost all green and are a golden brown (which takes a month or two), you wait until they are flexible some cloudy day or evening or early morning and lay them out on your knee (while you're sitting down of course) alternating stem to tip for 7 leaves. Then you tightly roll them together like a big Cigar and then gently twist the cigar, each end in an opposite direction, which gives you the typical "twisty" or "plug." This you hang to dry in the warm shade with positive airflow. It will take a few days to dry completely. Don't store the plug in plastic or glass until it is very dry or it will mold. If you cut through the plug with a razor blade, shaving off a little at a time, you make the typical crinkly product known as tobacco, which can be smoked in a pipe or rolled (and has no chemicals). Mighty smooth.