Whole Leaf Tobacco

Deluxestogie Grow Log 2019

deluxestogie

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The cop with doughnuts...
That's not any old cop. That's Chief Wiggum!



Chief Wiggum receives a call that a robbery is in progress at the Kwik E Mart. A tide of police cars pulls up in front of the Kwik E Mart. Chief Wiggum stands with a megaphone in his hands.
"Come out with your hands up!"
His officers open fire. Hundreds of rounds are pumped in the direction of the front door of the Kwik E Mart. The smoke clears.
"Nice job, boys," he says with satisfaction (in his trademark, Boston accent).
The camera pans to the front of the Kwik E Mart, where the robber is standing outside the door, unharmed, with his hands in the air, staring in amazement at the hundreds of holes in the walls and plate glass.


Arun almost immediately fixed the avatar shape. Hurray!

I will cheer up. The weather service just posted the temperature outlook for May. I will have warmer than average temperatures. So, before we all go extinct, I will have a nice crop of tobacco for 2019. I'll likely start transplanting this weekend.



Bob
 

deluxestogie

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My exciting news for the day is that I applied fertilizer to each of my garden beds.

"Tell me more," you insist. I use Southern States Premium Vegetable Grower Fertilizer 10-10-10. It is low chlorine. ~$17.50 for a 40 pound bag, which should last me through the 2021 season.



It's just a 40 pound bag of little rocks.



But they are nice little rocks.



I sprinkle 1-1/2 cups of nice little rocks onto each of my 60 square-foot garden beds. This form is rather easy to distribute reasonably from a plastic cup, by hand. All my plants are equal, and get exactly the same amount of fertilizer. Those few that are more equal than others may get an extra bonus.

I even went the extra mile, and fertilized Shanghai's flower bed, my two grape vines, my asparagus and my blackberries.

I do realize that tobacco "prefers" a different N-P-K forumula. But that's mostly to reduce the cost of the fertilizer blend for your 40 acres of tobacco, and minimize eutrification of nearby waterways. Neither of those concerns is particularly applicable to my tiny production. And this particular fertilizer is just sitting right there in the Southern States store, in its low chlorine glory, waiting for a forever home.

Since I will be away for 10 days in late June, I've decided to postpone transplanting the tobacco until mid May. That will avoid my absence during that critical period at about 60 days post transplant.

The seedlings will need at least a 4th and maybe a 5th haircut.

Bob
 

deluxestogie

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Sunday morning, sitting on the porch with a fresh cigar and a 16 ounce mug of coffee. The sky is overcast. A field mouse just few by, at about 60 feet above ground. Like most air passengers, it paid little attention to the scenery: a pasture of tall ripening grass, a freshly mowed lawn. Its pilot, as expected, paid little attention to his passenger, other than making certain the guest was securely fastened. Black crow 1: Black cat 0.

Last night's rain was just about the right amount at just about the right time of day.

Bob
 

deluxestogie

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Yesterday and today, I planted seed for:
  • zucchini
  • paty-pan squash
  • GA Candy Roaster squash (winter)
  • green beans
  • cukes
  • okra
Since I overdosed on tomatoes last season, I have put only two Big Beef tomatoes in the ground (seeded indoors at the end of February). And, of course, my Latakia herb crop is still in tiny pots: sweet marjoram, English lavender, thyme and rosemary. My Ping Tung eggplant seed was Puh Tooey. So no eggplant this season. I'll poke a few onion sets into the ground every few weeks during the summer.

Target date to start transplanting the tobacco is 18 May.

Using advanced mathematics and AI algorithms, I've determined that neither tobacco nor veggie should require harvesting before I return from my late June road trip.

To prove that I haven't been just sitting on my hands, here is a photo of my hand holding a winning hand of jumbo craft sticks.



Bob
 

deluxestogie

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This season, my tobacco goes into 6 large beds (5'x12') plus 2 half-beds (5'x6'). As of today, 2 large beds and 1 small bed have been tilled, and are ready to accept transplants. Four more big beds, and one more small bed to go. I no longer double-dig my tobacco beds, but I still till them by hand (pick-ax actually). So I'll probably divide up the remaining tilling labor into 3 days this week.

Of course, I have to resurrect my Oh Deere! lawn tractor once again. That will consist of an oil change, new oil, new oil filter, new gas filter and a new spark plug--$40 worth of doo-dads from the dealer (or as @ChinaVoodoo might call it, a perfectly reasonable price to pay for one nice-ish cigar).

Bob

EDIT: AND...I cut the Agribon AG-15 for making 6 deluxe bud bags (not needed until July sometime). And...I made my bed!
 

deluxestogie

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You can get TWO Davidoff cigars for that $.
I've smoked the real Davidoff's--ones from Cuba--back when Zino Davidoff was still alive and kicking, instead of rolling over in his grave. Those cost me a bit over $2 each. Yup. Long time ago, when you actually got what you paid for, when you bought a cigar. Why...when I was a young man....

Bob
 

deluxestogie

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Only 2 full-size beds left. Today I managed to till 2 full-size ones and a half-size. It was nice having a bed like that. It also kept me away from my old sleeping clothes and made me feel more at home. The only downside is that it took so much longer for her to go to bed. Since I don't have a bed and she doesn't, it seems that we won't be sleeping much. And my daughter won't be sleeping anyway for the duration of this trip. Since this trip is a small portion of my time this trip will be a one off. The next 4 nights are pretty normal sleep, except for going to bed late at night to take note of my daughter and getting ready for her. We've also taken turns sleeping with her.
A Note on I-94 and Its Route
The route for I-94 goes through a lot of remote corners to get to the highway. This allows my daughter to ride her bike into the area and avoid my husband, who would make his rounds early in the day while I work on my computer. I...


Wow! That really went off the rails. I had hoped to avoid having to write all of this post myself, but the AI wandered into a maze of truly odd tangents.

My Oh Deere! lawn tractor got (meaning I gave it) a tuneup yesterday. After 3 hours of Chinese puzzle, all of the engine cowling came off, and the bottom half of the cooling fins were jam packed with rodent nesting material--well baked. Now its private parts are thoroughly cleaned. Once I put it all back together, and cranked fuel back into the empty fuel line, it started like a charm, and ran perfectly for 10 minutes, after which it began to sputter.

Given all the new replaceables just installed, this seems to come down to one of the following:

  • a fuel flow issue (like a pinhole in the fuel line that might allow the warmer head of vapor pressure at the engine end to prevent adequate pump suction)
  • a sticky carburetor float or needle valve
  • a failing spark coil
Although I replaced the engine's spark coil 3 or so years ago, I suspect that the lack of adequate air-cooling has toasted it. So as it reaches operating temp, the coil no longer provides adequate spark to the shiny new, expertly gapped spark plug. Choices: 1)drive to the dealer and pay $60 for a new one, and have it immediately or 2) order one for $20 (shipping included) from Amazon, and wait until Friday for it. That was easy. If that doesn't work, I'll replace the entire fuel line, and rebuild the carburetor.

So I had some time on my hands today, since the 8" tall grass will have to wait until Friday [at which time, I will have to spend 3 hours of Chinese puzzle, removing the cowling again, to unscrew 2 bolts, and screw in the new coil--thanks, engineers]. In the mean time, I'll have the rest of the beds dug. The seedlings received their 5th (Count them. Five!) and final haircut two days ago. Now they look like little green bulldogs, ready to fend off any threat.



Bob
 

deluxestogie

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There should be a drain on the float bowl, it might be the bolt that holds the bowl on. Either way, drain the bowl and try it again.
Thanks. I may do that when I have all the cowling off the engine. The design goals of Oh Deere! engineers is to make certain that each and every simple maintenance task supplies a bounty of billable labor time for their dealers.

Bob
 

deluxestogie

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I got up early today. The relative humidity (RH) would stay above 80% until 10:00 am, after which it would plummet. I had planned to strip some of the stalk-cured 2018 tobacco hanging in my shed.

I know. It's mid-May. But in my very particular climate, I seem to be able to leave the tobacco hanging in the shed well into the next summer following harvest. I seldom have mold problems, since the RH see-saws high and low regularly in my well ventilated, metal roof shed. The extended shed time noticeably mellows the leaf. I have no market demands that would drive me to strip the leaf during the early winter.




From last summer. These were harvested in October, shortly before the first frost.

[My greenish Corojo 99 orphans may make the world's first Corojo 99 candela wrappers!]

The one demand that forces me to clear the shed before mid-summer is the need for shed space in which to hang my new crop. Even if the shed were twice its capacity, I would still have to clear it prior to harvest. Leaving cured leaf in a shed with freshly harvest leaf (especially whole stalks) pretty much guarantees that the cured leaf will be ruined by mold. A shed full of green leaf maintains a nearly steady RH in the 90s.

But it's not even 8:30 am as I write this. Is Bob really that fast at stripping leaf? Maybe. Well, no. I didn't strip anything this morning. Some oddball weather front caused the steadily falling nighttime temp (and rising humidity) to reverse course for several hours after midnight. The tobacco just wasn't in a workable case when I checked it at 7:00 am. Shucks.

Instead, I'm forced to sit back, smoke a fat cigar, sip my morning tub of coffee, and post on the forum. Some times we just need to be resilient.

Bob
 

MAB

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Hi Bob, I was looking at your Corojo 99 plants and they looked so weird!
Then, I realized that you cut the leaves a little ... why is it done?
Thank you
 

deluxestogie

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I grow my seedlings in 1020 trays with 48 cells. So 48 tobacco plants (per tray) have to be good neighbors. When leaves begin to shade their neighbors, I clip them with scissors. I typically need to do this weekly, once I begin. This allows the slower plants to grow better, and--as a result of "simulated" insect attack--the roots of all the plants mature more rapidly, and begin to produce nicotine (an insecticide) earlier.

All of the leaf that gets cliped would end up as bottom trash or very low grade lugs at the bottom of the plant. Here's a photo (from 2017) of how the Corojo 99 handles clipping trauma:



Bob
 

ciennepi

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I know you kiln your's leaves for at least 4 weeks. Have you ever try to kiln right after curing? And if you try have noticed difference versus the leaves tha rested in your shed for all the winter and are kilned after that? Thanks.
 

deluxestogie

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I've kilned leaf as soon as it has color-cured. I've kilned leaf that has hung for 3 years first. I'm not convinced that the sequence makes a difference, but the total aging time plus kilning (either earlier or later) seems to remain a necessity.

Some wonderful cigar varieties make a glorious cigar puros as soon as they return to proper case after kilning, regardless of proper aging. But then soon go into an "adolescence" of being not all that nice, until after further aging.

My Corojo 99 tips need about 18 months total, whereas the Corojo 99 lugs seem to require even more aging (maybe 24 months). My Vuelta Abajo suddenly goes from smokable to wonderful at 18 months. This is all mysterious stuff. I really have no firm understanding of these more subtle processes, or why lugs might require more aging than corona leaf. Way too many variables.

Bob

EDIT: Hanging in the shed, leaf cycles in and out of case, without effort on my part. (In-case is aging, out of case prevents molding) If I store kilned leaf in bags, then the burden is on my shoulders to maintain proper case for aging. Of course, when I am responsible for adjusting case, I can keep it exactly in low case most of the time, so it is aging "faster" than while in the shed. The "out of case" time in the shed is down time--it's a lunch break. No aging happens in dry leaf.
 
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deluxestogie

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With a brand spanking new coil, it still behaves the same. [The old coil was remarkably rusted from mouse urine.] But that ain't it. A rusty, pissy coil probably works just fine. After all of my tobacco is transplanted, and I bask in satisfaction about having completed it, then I may be in a charitable enough mood to do the carburetor and fuel lines.

Bob
 
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