Whole Leaf Tobacco

Cigars on a budget.

HostilePride

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Hello fellow tobacco enthusiasts,

Boy am I diving head first into yet another hobby.
Lately I have become interested in some things that will get me outside and in the garden. I have a hell of a lot of indoor hobbies and want to get away from the screen for a bit (massively into videogames, programming, and electronics/designing - May post more on this later as I have had a few ideas revolving around easier monitoring of humidity/temperatures for various parts of the tobacco processes, but I shall save that for another day). I am also a hobby Blacksmith/Bladesmith and machinist.

A brief introduction of myself:
My name is Kaden, I live in the south-west of Western Australia. I am currently 27 and was smoking Cigarettes since around 18.. I quit (Twice!) smoking cigarettes and have not smoked for at least 2 years now.
Personally I do not miss cigarette smoking, but have wanted to get into the occasional Cigar or Pipe smoking as I feel it's something I can enjoy doing once or twice a week, to help unwind and relax, or something to accompany my cup of coffee on a day off, etc.

I enjoy the DIY aspects of almost everything, whether it comes to Home brewing Beer or Distilling spirits (Both I do on quite a consistent basis), to custom built technology to integrate normal life into the technological world, or even the hands on experience of home renovation (Although my girlfriend probably wishes I don't take so long researching or planning everything in advanced... she can't see the amount of progress I make in my own head haha).

Importing tobacco products into Australia is very restrictive (Seeds will probably be the only thing I can import without getting some sort of ridiculous tax) so my only real option is to grow and do everything myself.
Daunting? No not really.
Excited to try it? Heck yea!
Information Overload? You betchya!

So here I am. I have gained a fairly good understanding on the whole process. But I have a few questions that I feel I need answered. Bellow I will list a bit of information I can provide to try and help.

I understand a lot of this can be subjective, I will take all answers with a grain of salt. This will be a lot like Beer or Cooking, not everything is for everyone. I just want your outlook on what could work for me.

My growing conditions:
I live in the South west of Western Australia as I mentioned. This area is a coastal, Semi-rural area where I have a decent amount of land. The soil here is not particularly fertile, but has amazing drainage. it is very gritty with very little plant matter, so I am expecting that I will either need to plant in large pots (Prefered as I could move the plants around if they are getting too much sun or not enough), or put some serious work into making some sort of plantbed area. Currently I grow very little vegetables or herbs, and those that are grown are done so in raised garden beds (Which are not all that large, probably not suitable for large plants).

This area, from what I can tell, is close to the US System of Region 10-11 (I was not aware of any growing regions or the like before starting this venture, so I may be incorrect with this. I am taking this information from Here)

Currently it is Winter so I have a lot of time to get things sorted for my growing season (Or what I perceive to be my growing season, I feel around August/Sept will be the best time to start).
Winter in Australia is VERY mild compared to other parts of the world. In my area if you asked someone "When is the last frost date for you?", you will get a blank stare and a reply of "What the bloody hell is a frost?"
In all seriousness though, we very rarely get to bellow 0°C (32°F), and frost isn't something I would worry about too much. 9 out of 12 months in Australia are usually quite hot, although where I am being coastal, doesn't really get too ridiculous, with an average of 18-28°C (64-83°F).
Humidity is something I never really paid attention to before now, but checking it out now, the average for my area is around 50%-60% from October and onwards, in summer it probably gets a little lower.

I want to focus on making my own Cigars with the possible potential for Pipe tobacco blends. The problem I have is I don't want to grow too many varieties as this can become fairly expensive (Both time and money-wise) and I wish to minimize the chances of cross pollination. I want to harvest the seeds as they are probably going to be a bit of a pain to get here, but this part I will have to see when I order.

What sort of varieties would you all recommend? I don't have the luxury of ordering leaf tobacco to try first which is a real shame. I don't have any local tobacconists (that aren't a 3 hour drive away). I have the potential to order some cigars online from within Australia but they are fairly expensive as out tax on tobacco products is exceptionally high.
I guess the best I can do is try and suggest some flavors of things I like or would like the cigars to compliment, so here goes:
I enjoy drinking coffee, which I normally serve with milk and sometimes with sugar (depending on how I am feeling), I usually go for a darker roast but don't like it if it gets too bitter.
I like drinking red wine (My area is super well known for it's wines), usually something like a Shiraz (I like the tannin mouth feel and taste of reds).
I enjoy a good beer as long as it isn't too floral/Hoppy (If I was to choose I like Stout/IPA as long as not too floral, and ALWAYS enjoy a good stout like Guiness, probably the Irish in me).
I would usually drink a Cider or a Ginger beer over a traditional beer if I had the choice, not too sweet but a hint is quite nice as a thirst quencher.
I enjoy chocolate and caramel flavors as long as they aren't too bitter (If I needed to choose a chocolate darkness it would probably be 60-70% dark).

I am aware that flavors are subjective and also the process of curing and aging have a huge impact on flavors.

I would probably want to start with no more than 3 varieties. I feel this would give me a good starting point as I work out what I like, and being on the lighter side would probably be better. When I smoked cigarettes I would usually choose something quite harsh (Winfield Red was my usual, high in nicotine and quite a harsh flavor, but I wasn't really smoking it for its amazing aromatic/flavor profile).
From these plants I would like to be getting the Filler/Binder and Wrapper out of these 3 plants (Or less, got any single plant suggestion? fire away!) and would have fun experimenting with different blends.
If there is anything commonly used as a Pipe tobacco that too would be a plus. I would be open to trying many plants later but for now I feel like I should keep it small.

What did you all start with?

Boy this post is getting massive. Still here? Thank you so much for your time.
I feel I should cut this here, any information you can provide is greatly appreciated. If I can learn from your mistakes it's one I don't have to make (or at least can identify when I do make it haha)

Many thanks,
Kaden.
 

waikikigun

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Brilliant post, great read. And congrats on quitting cigs. I know that in fact there are Aussies who do receive whole leaf from WLT sent into Australia, but it's moot; no doubt you'll get some good suggestions in varieties from someone here. Best of luck, Kaden, and take it easy.
 

Moth

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There are far more knowledgeable people than me here, although, recommend http://nwtseeds.com/ for the seeds. Others can also vouch for the service and quality and you'll see some posts on here from him.

I also cannot import whole leaf (yeah the UK made it impossible) and had no idea what went into the cigars I have smoked, so, I picked seeds fairly at random. The best description I got when asking about the differences in end product came from Bob:

Olor and Criollo 98 are likely to have been in some of the Caribbean or Central American cigars that you have smoked. In general, all the subtle, nuanced foodie descriptions of these are exercises in poetic, speculative fiction. Expect earthy, somewhat "barnyard" tobacco.

PA Red, though is among a group of American old-school cigar tobaccos (along with Long Red, Little Dutch, Dutch Ohio) that actually provide a dark, woody, leathery aroma, without the background "barnyard" of most non-American cigar tobaccos.

Bob
EDIT:
I'm hoping to get wrapper, binder and filler from the 3 types I am growing. Thinner wrapper suitable leaves come from lower down the plant are are primed earlier. Although, I'm not into aesthetics - a gnarly cigar of just binder is aok with me, as long as its nice
 

HostilePride

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Brilliant post, great read. And congrats on quitting cigs. I know that in fact there are Aussies who do receive whole leaf from WLT sent into Australia, but it's moot; no doubt you'll get some good suggestions in varieties from someone here. Best of luck, Kaden, and take it easy.
Interesting, I may have to risk it when I have some disposable income in case it doesn't get through or they charge me an arm and a leg on taxes.

Take a look here: http://northwoodseeds.com/multi-packs.htm
Skychaser has done half the job, his packs can be a starting point. Or enjoy reading all his tobacco descriptions in the seed list, and try to make a decision.

pier
Great suggestion Pier, thank you.

I appreciate all the support, it certainly makes things easier knowing there is a large community backing me up haha.

and that is also some good advice Moth, I was reading your Grow log and it looks like things are going well! Best of luck!
 

HostilePride

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Very complete introduction, welcome Kaden ;)

For the selection of strains, you can take a look at DeluxeStogie's post here : https://fairtradetobacco.com/threads/deciding-on-varieties-to-grow-for-pipe-blending-and-cigars.7416/
He gives some hints on what to choose ;)

Good luck.
Thanks Charly,

I had come across that thread already, I guess I just needed it narrowed down a little further Haha. There was still far too many options.

I tried to read as much as I could before posting to minimize repeating things already answered as there is a massive wealth of knowledge here, I just needed some clarification and a little direction for my own tastes and some advice for my location.
 
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HostilePride

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I honestly don't know too much about pipe tobacco. From what I do know is the smell can be more pleasant (I think it was you who mentioned something about smoking your pipe inside because it was far more arromatic).

I more saw myself smoking a pipe while just relaxing in the afternoon or with a nice drink to accompany it. I always sort of imagined it to be sweeter than a cigar although I could be completely wrong.

I have smoked only a few cigars in my life (although I doubt they were quality, in fact I can guarantee they were not haha) but I have never tried pipe tobacco.

I figured if I was going to the trouble it would be worthwhile growing something that was multi-purpose.
 

deluxestogie

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Pipe tobaccos are whatever you wish. I love sweet foods, but not sweet tobacco.

I would suggest starting off just aiming for a smokable cigar for this season. Getting down the mechanics of growing tobacco will be a full-season project all in itself.

Bob
 

HostilePride

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I think that is probably very good advice Haha. I think I will probably get the Caribbean seed pack from northwood as suggested. It has 3 seeds, 2 of which I had half made my mind up as being a good choice with one I hadn't heard of yet (Havana 142 and Cuban Criollo 98 being 2 common ones, and Hanbano 2000 being the one I wasn't familiar with).

Will piece together some funds and hope that Australian customs goes lightly on a few seeds.
 

GreenDragon

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Welcome Kaden and a belated "Howdy!" from Texas. I second Bob's advice to go with cigar varieties for your first year. Also, don't get too caught up on trying to grow binders and wrappers and fillers. That was my mistake my first year growing. Concentrate on growing fillers your first year - you can get fine wrappers and binders from a filler variety, and fillers generally offer better flavor that specialized wrapper strains, etc. Sounds like you already have some challenges to overcome from the start, so make Year One as easy on yourself as possible. Experiment and have fun!
 

HostilePride

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That's some great advice as well, I was planning too much to try and get the most perfect leaves possible to make sure I had enough. Truth is I think I'll be happy no matter end product I have Haha.

I think I am pretty much set on getting seeds from Northwood, I'll probably contact them soon and hope Aus customs aren't too problematic. Some of the additions to the law seem to lean in my favor of non-commercial personal growing but it's hidden in amendments.

The girlfriend has propositioned that I need to get the renovation work done before I start anything else. Guess I have something to really push towards now haha.
 
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