Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cigar Reviews Interview

Greetings Friends,

And yet another great cigar blog has mentioned our company and cigars on their site. Matthew from the cigar blog, Cigar Reviews, interviewed me to find out what we are about and why smokers enjoy our cigars. Check out this blog as it is well-laid out and filled with interesting pieces. To read the interview, click here.

I want to thank Matthew again for the interview and for spreading the good word of the Devil's Weed. So long for now.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Nice Tight Review

Greetings Friends,

The cigar blog that posts reviews about cigars and other industry-worthy news known as Nice Tight Ash (@NiceTightAsh on Twitter) has just added a video reviewing our Devil's Weed Cabinet Selection Raleigh (our robusto, 5x50). We at Molina Cigar would like to thank Charlie (the reviewer and @mountchuck on Twitter), and all the guys at Nice Tight Ash (@tight_ash, @bulldogrifleman, and @btmisles). Take a look at the video review below.

Click here for the actual video on their website, and I highly recommend checking out this cigar blog. It is well laid out, clean and informative. Brothers of the leaf like these keep the cigar industry fresh and invigorated. Thanks again, fellas, and I look forward to other reviews and posts!


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

AP Story on the Increase in Home-Growing Tabaco

Greetings Friends,

Maybe we are so far ahead of the curve or maybe citizens are so fed up with high taxes on cigars and other tobacco products that the Associated Press (AP) just released a story about the increasing trend of Americans growing their own tobacco lately. To read the story just click here.

Let's hope the feds do not make home-growing illegal. But they should know that the more they tax a particular item, the more dire consequences they cause (namely a large loss of tax revenue and/or a large loss of revenue from American business).

Regarding the same subject, if you're wondering why we have not posted any recent updates about the Great American Backyard Tabaco Experiment, there is a reason and namely that is because our digital camera broke and we have yet to replace it. But just know that as of Day 121, the plants are about 3 feet high and have had plenty of small caterpillars and eggs taken from them. Those pests are persistent!


Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Great American Backyard Tabaco Experiment, Day 104

Day 104. A voracious tabaco-consuming caterpillar.

Greetings Friends,

Today's post will reinforce to you Green Thumbs what can happen to your crop if you don't keep constant vigil.

Before we describe the dangers of a ruined crop let us give you an update of our experimental plot. We are in the midst of a typical New Orleanian summer pattern: hot and humid days with a temporary downpour (usually in the afternoon). As a result, we haven't had to spend money (or time) on watering the crop. In addition, the water quality is better than tap. It is amazing to literally watch the growth of these plants. Unfortunately, the wind can pick up before a downpour and some of the plants get turned over. However, the plants that bend in the wind correct themselves and begin to grow straight again. Take a look at the pictures to see the progress.

Day 104. Full-view of the crop.

Day 104. The Eastern Half.

Day 104. The Western Half.

Day 104. The MVP is about 9 inches in height.

And now to illustrate to you faithful some of the dangers of gardening (especially if you take the organic route of farming). FYI, the plant shown here is one that has grown in the backyard since last November. It is well over 7 feet tall and has already flowered. Anyway, pests are a constant danger to your tabaco plants and are a fine food for many caterpillars and other bugs. I took a look at the plant today and found about 5 caterpillars of the same species, each in a different stage of its life cycle before the cocoon stage. I am not sure what species this is but can only guess it is a type of butterfly. If any of you DW faithful know what species this is, let us know in the comments section.

First, if you find a small globe on a leaf, this is an egg. This is the time to prevent any damage to your plant. Get rid of it or transplant the egg to another spot (if you're the PETA type). A butterfly or moth has just laid an egg on top of the food source for the caterpillar that will soon hatch. Once it hatches, the particular species likes to eat the leaves of the plant. If left alone, entire leaves can disappear thus decreasing your harvest yield for fine smoking tabaco. This species, once hatched, has a spiky thorn on its backside (most probably for protection and defense). The more it eats, the faster and larger it grows. The largest one I found today is about 3 inches long. This particular caterpillar is actually quite an interesting specimen.

I have yet to see its cocoon stage and can only guess it will form the cocoon somewhere on the plant. I am letting these pests stay here so as not to lead them on to our fledgling crop. Again, a little oversight goes a long way in yielding a successful tabaco crop. Take a look at the caterpillars below.

Day 104. A caterpillar egg lying on its food source. Smart mom.

Day 104. A newly-hatched caterpillar. About 1/4 inch in length. Notice the hole it ate in the leaf.

Day 104. A medium-sized specimen.

Day 104. A full-grown caterpillar. Next is cocoon time.

Day 104. The damage these guys can wreak.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Great American Backyard Tabaco Experiment, Day 100

Day 100. A close-up of a fine specimen.

Greetings Friends,

It is Day 100 of the Great American Backyard Tabaco Experiment and we are still here and thriving. It is safe to say that the transplanting was a success. The tabaco plants have grown tremendously since the last post (6 days ago) so this means that the roots have taken hold of their new terrain. It has also rained the last 4 days so the plants are receiving good natural water and thus have exploded in size. Everyday, I am inspecting whether there are any signs of pests and, luckily, the plants have not been discovered by herbivorous insects.

Now as long as there aren't any major storms or wind, insects or other acts of nature to damage the plants, we can expect to harvest the leaves for smoking consumption in another 45 to 60 days. The "drainage system" works well and we can expect a great harvest. Now we play the waiting game and smoke some cigars (preferably Devil's Weed cigars) as we watch the tabaco plants grow! Take a look at the photos.

Day 100. Field-view of the crop. Nice.

Day 100. Western-half of the crop.

Day 100. Eastern-half of the crop.

Day 100. Is this the MVP?

Day 100. Or is this plant the MVP?

In case, you couldn't tell which of the photos was the long-running holder of the MVP, it was the first one. All the plants are getting plenty of water, nutrients and space for the roots to thrive that nearly all are MVPs.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Great American Backyard Tabaco Experiment, Day 94

Day 93. Tabaco in the rain.
Greetings Friends,
Today marks the 2nd day since we transplanted the tabaco plants to the garden plot in our backyard and the specimens seem to be doing fine so far. Yesterday (Day 93) was a little worrisome since a shower passed through the area and I wasn't sure how the transplants would respond so soon after transfer. In the end, they were fine.
I failed to mention in the last post a little tip regarding the laying of the ground tarp. In order to maximize the use and control of water, I recommend punching a few holes in the "valleys" of the ground tarp. This way the water that is collected from rain is drained and absorbed into the soil which will in turn be absorbed by the tabaco roots. Otherwise the water will just stay, stagnate and create a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
At this stage of tabaco cultivation by the professional commercial growers, it is ideal that the plant does not receive water directly onto the leaves. It is better if the plant absorbs the water from the ground via its roots. Why is that you ask? Water applied onto the leaves can result in water spots and commercial growers try to avoid this since the goal of tabaco cultivation is to have the highest wrapper yield (the most profitable grade due to its high aesthetics). But again, since this experiment is only teaching you how to grow tabaco for your own use, it is entirely up to you how you are to water the plants (as long as they receive some H2O).
Moreover, you want to be sure to not over-water the plants because if they absorb too much, then the leaves can wilt due to the oversaturation. (Again, I suppose if you do not care about wrapper yields, it may not matter if your leaves have some slight damage due to wilting). The commercial growers in Central America call the tabaco plants that have received too much water and result in wilted leaves drunk tabaco. In addition, too much water can also result in mold or fungal growth. Just be sure to monitor the condition of your crop.
Enjoy the pictures as we took some during the shower on Day 93 and the drier aftermath on Day 94.
Day 93. Singin' in the rain.

Day 93. Notice the valley collecting the rainwater.

Day 93. Ah, refreshing.

Day 93. Close-up.

Day 93. Watch the wilting.

Day 93. Drying off.

Day 93. Let the growing commence.

Day 94. Overall crop view. Notice the drainage from the valleys has occurred.

Day 94. Wilting can occur from too much heat or water. Take care!

Day 94. Not bad.

Day 94.

Day 94.



Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Great American Backyard Tabaco Experiment, Day 92

Day 92. A couple of happy tabaco plants.
Greetings Friends,

We have just completed an all-important step in the Great American Backyard Tabaco Experiment: transplanting. We will divide this entry into 2 parts for a simpler illustration: 1. preparation of the land and 2. transplanting. Enjoy the read!
Preparation of the Land:
As I mentioned yesterday, the preparation for the actual plot of land to contain the tabaco plants was done around Day 30. The first step at this stage is to choose the part of your backyard that is to be used as a garden. The highest part of the backyard is ideal but more importantly, the area has to have plenty of sunlight and no aerial obstructions. Next, if the chosen area is just dirt, you're good. Otherwise, if your situation was like mine, there was grass. If this is the case, then I recommend a good plower or other similar gardening equipment to pull out the grass and expose the soil. In my case, I went old-school and used a shovel to lift out the top-layer of grass. After some back-breaking work, I tilled the soil so that there were a series of "valleys" and "mountains". As you can see in the illustration below, this layout is ideal as it allows for water to be contained and not flood the tabaco plants in case you are hit with a shower storm or two. The plants will be placed on top of the "mountain" for maximum protection. Next (although not necessary), I placed a garden picket fence around the border of the plot. I was forced to do this as we have a couple of Labs that like to roam the backyard. If you do not have dogs or other backyard pets, this is not necessary (but it is still good form).
The steps up to this point were actually done last year when I used this layout for the last growing season. What I did on Day 30 of the GABTE was this next step: laying down the black "garbage bag" plastic tarp on the ground. Although this step is not necessary as well, I highly recommend implementing this cover. Reason One: you do not have to worry about weeds and pulling out weeds so often. The tarp kills off and prevents any grass, weeds or other plants from growing underneath its surface (the reason I do this early on is to deprive sunlight to any grass and weeds on the plot and to let them die off and ferment before we transplant our tabaco plants). Reason Two: the tarp is able to contain and store water from a shower or hosing session. Reason Three: the likelihood of any pests getting to your plants is lower. Many strawberry farmers use this tactic to grow their fruits (especially here in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, the strawberry capital) for the previous reasons and also to retain heat in the ground. Again, this step is not mandatory but it helps you out in the long run.
Take a look below at the cross-section of the plot to better understand how we will prepare our plot.
Cross-section of tabaco plot.
As far as the dimensions and where we will physically place the plants, look below at the bird's-eye view of the plot. It is important to leave enough space in between plants so that each can develop in peace and quiet without infringing on the next plant's space and nutrients. Notice that we leave about 4 feet between plants in the same column and when we look at column-to-column, we stagger the placement of the plants (like many houses that use brick on their facades). This is illustrated by the dotted lines "connecting" every other column. I have also left some space between the plants and the fence (if you decide to use a protective barrier of some kind).
In the end, the preparation is rather simple but very important. Once we transplant, expect an exponential growth rate from these "unconfined" plants. I have noticed that the growth rate of tabaco can be controlled by how long and in what size container you place the plants. Since the root system of tabaco grows out extensively, once the roots hit a boundary, the plant does not grow as much. I believe we could have shaved off 2 weeks in this experiment if I transplanted the tabaco earlier and if I transplanted the seedlings from the common plastic bin (during germination) to each individual plastic container earlier, as well. However, I left the plants as long as I did for their protection. Regardless, we are here now and ready for the transplant.
Bird's-Eye View of the tabaco plot.
After checking the prepared plot of backyard, I was ready to transplant the all-stars. I recommend doing this step at dawn or dusk so the plants don't have to worry about the daytime heat of the sun (this step is a stressor for the tabaco anyway; plus you are more comfortable as well). I water the plants in their containers so that when I actually pull out the plants, it is easier and the plants are held intact.

Day 92. One quick survey of the plot.

Day 92. The plants are ready.

According to the drawn layout, I go to the spot where the transplanting process is to occur. Secondly, I use a small gardening hoe to cut out a small hole in the trap. This is where the plant will be placed. Next, I dig out enough soil so the plant (with its container soil) can be placed level with the ground. After the ground is prepared, I carefully dig out the tabaco plant from its plastic container. Do not worry if some soil is left behind with leftover roots. The plant has a dense root structure. Next, I place the plant in the hole and pack the soil around it in place. This keeps the plant intact and secure.
I repeat these steps with the other plants and lay them out according to the plan. When I am done, I lightly hose the plants with water (not putting the stream into direct contact with the tabaco but rather letting the ground around the plant absorb the water). From this point on, when you water the plants, it is better to water them in this way. Water spots are more likely to form on the leaves if you water directly onto the leaves.
From here on out, the growth rate should be quick. As long as the soil is moist, the bugs are kept at bay and the plants get an adequate amount of sunlight, the crop will be plentiful and the leaves thick. Stay tuned for updates regarding the open-field growing stage. Happy planting!

Day 92. Ready for liftoff.

Day 92. Pierce the tarp for plant entry.

Day 92. Opening the entry.
Day 92. The open hole.

Day 92. Dig out some soil for the plant.

Day 92. Taking out the plant.

Day 92. High above ground in a ball of soil.

Day 92. Notice the impressive root structure.

Day 92. Packing the soil to secure the plant.

Day 92. This is the last home for the tabaco plant.

Day 92. Another successful patient.

Day 92. Expect major and fast growth now.
Day 92. An illustration on the "staggering" placement of the plants.

Day 92. The all-stars have been transplanted.

Day 92. Full-view of the crop.

Day 92. Another angle of the plot.

Day 92. A job well done.


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