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MWaller 2018 Grow Blog

mwaller

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#1
With one year if tobacco cultivation under my belt, I'm hoping 2018 will be a success. While 2017 was by no means a flop, I made many rookie mistakes that I intend to avoid this year: harvesting too early, over watering, and haphazard fertilization. I also learned a lot about the merits (or lack thereof) of different planting sites in my yard. Tobacco in my front yard received direct sun from mid morning to late afternoon, and grew far more vigorously than plants in the back yard that received only a 1/2 day of direct sun. This year, I hope to make better use of the sunnier locations while tempering my expectations for back yard plantings.
Tonight I seeded the trays for my 2018 grow. While 2017 was devoted entirely to cigar varieties, this year will will include two Orientals that I'm excited about: Duzce and Prelip. My cigar selections will be paired down to three: Criollo 98, Piloto Cubano, and Connecticut Shade. I was fortunate to receive some Criollo 98 seeds directly from Hector Luis Prieto's farm in Cuba, which I plan to grow alongside Criollo 98 from nwtseeds for comparison. I will be interested to see whether there is any difference!
And now, a few pics:

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mwaller

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#2
I was inspired by some of you who grew garlic last year. So I decided to plant 5-6 different varieties last fall. They are already well in their way...!
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deluxestogie

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#3
Since the bulbs produced this year are not dependent on pollination, all you have to do to propagate your favorites of the half-dozen varieties growing is to be able to identify which is which.

Bob

EDIT: and be sure to select the very biggest of each variety to set aside for next year.
 

mwaller

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#6
This is my first time using a seedling heat mat. Our house is typically between 68 and 70 degrees, which seems way too cool for germination. With the heat mat, the soil temperature is a toasty 80 degrees.
 

mwaller

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#10
Exciting times at the MWaller tobacco ranch... The first seeds have germinated! I was warned that Piloto Cubano can take a long time to germinate. In my case, they were first! IMG_20180222_181552316_LL.jpg
 

mwaller

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#12
I received my soil test results today.
Last year, I spent considerable effort preparing a raised bed in my back yard for my first tobacco crop. In addition to adding compost and various organic fertilizers, I attempted to lower the pH. Clearly, I went too far with the acidifier - the pH is now 5.27! I'm guessing I should add some lime.. but how much?
As it turns out, this raised bed receives only partial sun, so it wasn't the most ideal location for tobacco. I will probably plan CT Shade and various Oriental / Turkish varieties in it this year.
Raised Bed.jpg
 

mwaller

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#13
The soil test results from the Front yard look good. The front yard receives full sun for much of the day, and it produced some fairly large Corojo 99 last year. This year, I will be planting Criollo 98 and Piloto Cubano.
I'm tempted add some nitrogen, lower the pH a bit, and call it good for the year... thoughts?
Front Yard.jpg
 

mwaller

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#15
Tonight I thinned all my seedlings to 1 plant per cell. Germination of Prelip and Duzce was disappointing - I only have one or two of each! A second seeding is in the works.
One big takeaway: seed as few seeds as needed to get the job done! Crowded seedlings compete for light and become leggy. Not only that - they begin to rely on each other for support and don't develop the same strong stem that their singleton neighbors do....
I decided it was safe to remove the moisture hood so I can lower the lights even further.
I have no experience using heat mats, so I don't know when they should be turned off.. thoughts? IMG_20180305_225635326.jpg
 

Levi Gross

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#16
Last year was my first for using a heat mat and I took them off of it as soon as the hood came off and the light came down... But I am now wondering if it would not hurt the little seedlings to stay heated for a while. Maybe why my plants are always so slow on the start. My house is 118 years old and kinda cold during these months still.
Tonight I thinned all my seedlings to 1 plant per cell. Germination of Prelip and Duzce was disappointing - I only have one or two of each! A second seeding is in the works.
One big takeaway: seed as few seeds as needed to get the job done! Crowded seedlings compete for light and become leggy. Not only that - they begin to rely on each other for support and don't develop the same strong stem that their singleton neighbors do....
I decided it was safe to remove the moisture hood so I can lower the lights even further.
I have no experience using heat mats, so I don't know when they should be turned off.. thoughts? View attachment 22989
 

deluxestogie

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#17
Most seedling heat mats (at least the ones I can afford) are unregulated. For a typical 1020 tray sized mat, it simply pumps 17 to 19 watts of heat. The notion is that it increases the temp of the overlying soil by around 10°F above ambient--perfect for a cool greenhouse bench.

For several years, I always kept a 99 cent thermometer resting on one of the 1020 trays heated by one of my heat mats. Depending on the ambient temp, it tended to raise the thermostat about 7 to 15°F above ambient. So long as this does not get above about 85°F soil temp, it's fine to use it for promoting growth. If there is episodic direct sun on the tray, it can easily climb above that, and also accelerates soil drying. My solution for stabilizing the 1020 tray's soil temp is to have the insert resting in a 1020 tray with drain holes, and that in turn resting in a 1020 tray without holes. That gives me a functional "water jacket" between the heat mat and the soil, so that temps vary slowly enough to keep an eye on them.

I usually have seedlings in 4 or 5 trays, and have only 2 heat mats. So the mats get removed when the next set of transplants into a tray need heating.

Summary: more heat promotes growth, so long as you keep it below about 85°F.

Bob
 

mwaller

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#18
Thanks, Bob. I have kept the heat mats on.
Last night, I re-seeded the empty sells with Duzce. I put the humidity hood back on to protect them. It will be interesting to see if the protected seedlings do any better or worse than those without the hood. IMG_20180308_075922982_HDR.jpg
 

mwaller

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#19
"Duzce" from a second source arrived today, so I decided to seed another half tray for the sake of comparison. I didn't have the energy to fill any more 1020 trays, so I decided to cheat with peat pellets... I know these have a spotted reputation, but I'm hoping for the best!
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DistillingJim

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#20
I was just reading the Duzce thread - glad you got hold of some seeds. I love the role this forum plays in keeping species like this accessible.
 
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