Hi, I’ve grown half doz Virginia Gold plants and have just removed the first flower buds from this plant. I’ve noticed these 3 odd lateral branches around the base of the flowers - should I remove them too?
Yep definitely remove suckers from every leaf and any new growth around the bottom of plants as Bob said. These leaves will be smaller, thinner and just dont cure well at all. You want all the growth to go into those big main leaves. I have spent much of my last 2 summers removing laterals and flowers that are relentless in growth. Last year I had to use a ladder to actually reach them. This year, with more plants, I have purchased long armed clippers and this has made the chore quicker
I am over on the East Coast of the North Island. They grow like weeds all year round This is actually a nuisance as on the darker side of the section they take ages to start to turn yellow. Hence I hasten this up by packing them in boxes green for 5 to 7 days. That does the trick. I have thought of using roundup but that might kill me also....lol
The tallest I have is currently 9ft 3inch. Add the flowers and you would be well over 10 feet. Hence the necessity for the ladder or long armed clippers.
Sorry for the delay in answering. My workshop suddenly decided to become over crowded in broken PCs.
I have very large boxes. Long and flat. A multi wheelbarrow came in the main one.
I layer the bottom with newspaper. Then 2 or 3 leaves depending on the size of the leaves.
Then a layer of newspaper and then another layer of leaves and so it goes on.
The newspaper has 3 reasons. To keep them dry so they do not rot, to keep them separated and to give them something to read
The box is packed depending on what day the leaves are at. The first few days they are bulky and not flat. They last few days the leaves are flat and piled fairly tight. I have up to 100 leaves in my main large box. The box is covered and in the dark.
Every day I remove all the leaves and newspaper. Pile up and scatter the wet newspaper around the shed and leave them to dry for the following day. Then I re stack the box turning the leaves over and laying with dry newspaper.
They remain in the box until most of the leave is yellow. Parts will also be brown. The stem will still be green but that does not matter. They stems dry on hanging.
Once yellow I hang 3 or 4 together, underside of the stem against underside of the stem. This helps to keep them a part. I hang at one end and slowly move them down the ropes hanging in the shed. Once they get to the other end they should be dry enough to loosely box for the following year. I use plastic shower curtain hooks so I can move them along.
I usually wait until the leaves are starting to yellow or lighten in colour before I pick them, but because I want my crop harvested and brown before winter I am picking them green as well. Not the top ones, just the bottom ones. They take longer in the box to yellow but it is quicker then waiting for these healthy plants to start to change colour. I usually leave them piled in my wheelbarrows for a few days to wilt and flatten out a bit before starting the box routine.
This is all I do. Sure it takes time each day, but it is just part of my routine and I just keep reminding myself how much money I am saving They remain boxed for a year for aging.
Right now I am buying whole leaf from the states until my last year's first grow has completed its 1 year aging