Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Great American Backyard Tabaco Experiment, Day 37

Greetings Friends,

Day 36. Some of these sprouts are fine, but look at some of the damage.

It has been close to 2 weeks since our last update regarding the Great American Backyard Tabaco Experiment but we are back. It is Day 37 and boy has there been a hard lesson learned and this is it: if you do not maintain a constant vigilance on your crop, then expect the plants to be subject to the harsh elements. I was out of town the last 11 days so I wasn't able to check on the fledgling plants. Before my departure, I watered the plants and I put the holding container under my outdoor patio to protect them from any strong rain.

On my return, however, this was not enough. First of all many of the plants lost their lush green color because of the lack of sunlight (Botany 101: plants need the sun light to produce chlorophyll which accounts for a plant's green color; a lack of sunlight, causes a plant to turn white and eventually die). Secondly, a pest or two did major damage to the majority of the plants. Many of the little sprouts have disappeared and some larger plants have had leaves subject to a fine meal. Now, I did not want to use any sprays or insect repellents on the plants so I know this could have been an issue, but the first few weeks that saw my supervision may have prevented any major insect intrusion. I could have taken natural steps to prevent any further damage on first sight (for example, ladybugs are great defenders of crops; they eat plant-eating pests and they themselves do not have a desire for tabaco. Also, pouring a boundary line of salt around the perimeter of the plants creates a barrier for small slugs and other ground insects from entering the breeding grounds).

Anyway, upon my return, I put the plants in the sunlight and watered them again and hopefully the ones that made it (I should have enough for a dozen good ones) will make a fine recovery. But, man, what a scare when I saw the sprouts! Take a look at the damage below, friends, and remember: if you are going to grow your own tabaco, do not ignore the little guys. They can be fragile but with a little supervision, this is no sweat.

At this point, I will let the plants recover for about 7 days (at most) before we select the creme de la creme for transplanting each plant into its own individual containers to allow further growth.

And I learned that when I leave for a long duration, I will have to hire a tabaco nanny.

Day 36. Upon my return, the density is not as high as it should have been.

Day 36. The hot spot has seen some stress.

Day 36. Don't worry little guys, we'll survive this.

Day 37. Even one day sees a slight improvement, but we're not out yet.

Day 37. Here are a few good candidates for transplanting.

Day 37.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Great American Backyard Tabaco Experiment, Day 26

Greetings Friends,

On Day 26, I have some good news and bad news regarding the Great American Backyard Tabaco Experiment. The bad news is that some of the seedlings seem to have been targets for some voracious plant-eating insects (probably the same ones that love your backyard tomatoes). The good news is that the damage wasn't too bad and there are still scores and scores that are untouched. I suppose that is why tabaco plants produce so many seeds: the odds of a plant surviving to produce its own seeds is small (there are many insects that love to feed on them and mold and other diseases are always a threat). I refuse to use sprays or other artificial means to keep away pests. I hate the stuff and I feel the plants that survive naturally will produce seeds that I would want to collect anyway (in other words, I am implementing a sort of selective selection in order to breed plants that exhibit strong and desirable characteristics, i.e. disease-resistant and insect-resistant plants; step aside Darwin).

I will gather some information concerning these issues from a tabaco master later this week. Details will come in over a week as I may not have access to a computer (hint, hint). But don't worry my fellow faithful of the DW...we will provide details when they come available. In the meanwhile, check out these pictures of Day 26 that I took earlier in the day.

Day 26. The top view. Becoming dense.

Day 26. The strong one is getting company. Notice the plants are leaning towards the left. They are following the path of the sun.

Day 26. The hot spot is getting larger and larger. Which plants will make the cut?

Day 26. Makes you want to cry, huh?


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Great American Backyard Tabaco Experiment, Day 22

Greetings Friends,

Boy do we have plenty of pictures for you today! Our little experiment is going fine and the weather here has been fantastic for growing tabaco. It has been a little hotter than what is ideal for the plants but the tarp provides the right amount of sunlight needed for the growing sprouts without having them shrivel. I rigged the shade tarp by cutting some tarp material that you can buy at Home Depot or Lowe's and affixing two slim pieces of wood to provide some support. Then I put a stick in the center of the container to provide the support for the "tent" that is to go up. So essentially I have built a mini circus top or tee-pee and this is great to keep out most of the pests and to block the extra sunlight all around the perimeter.

We have profiled the setup from Days 18, 19, 21, and 22 (today). What I have learned is that during these days you see very noticeable changes in the growth of these plants. Today I saw a sprout that has 2 levels of leaves! As I have mentioned before, I don't know what we're going to do with the extra plants. Maybe I can be the next Johnny Tabacoseed and plant the tabaco sprouts all over the city! Check out the pictures. If you would to see a close-up of any picture, just click on it.

Day 18, the top view.

Day 18, the biggest sprout is on the top right-hand corner of the diagonal front of sprouts.

Day 18, the hot spot.

Day 18, under the tarp.

Day 19, the top view.

Day 19, the hot spot. You can see the middle stick which provides support for the tarp in the background.

Day 19, the strong plant.

Day 19.

Day 21, the top view.

Day 21, the hot spot.

Day 21, the strong one is getting some company.

Day 21, here is the circus top. Nice.

Day 22, the top view.

Day 22, the hot spot is showing dramatic growth.

Day 22, the strong one and company.

Day 22, I wonder if tabaco sprouts can be used in a salad. Hmm.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Great American Backyard Tabaco Experiment, Day 16

Greetings Friends,
Check out these pictures which include photos from Day 12, 15 and 16 of the Great American Backyard Tabaco Experiment. I am happy to say it is going effortlessly and better than expected. Better than expected because more tabaco sprouts are appearing than I had first forecast. These seeds are over a year old and I was afraid many may have "died" thus I overplanted to compensate. Boy, was I wrong. There is also a picture of my homemade shade tarp that I use on extremely hot and sunny days. This is to protect the sprouts from shriveling and drying out. Anyway, I check the sprouts everyday waiting impatiently for the "separation" stage at which point I will choose the best dozen or more tabaco seedlings so that each can grow in its own container. Come back for more updates!

Day 12. The homemade shade-tarp covers the sprouts.

Day 12. The original areas of concentration see more growth.

Day 12. They are growing!

Day 15. Now more areas are seeing sprouts! What a difference 3 days makes.

Day 15. A hot spot.

Day 16. I spotted this blue jay eyeing my sprouts. It was on the table looking like it wanted to ravage the little guys on the previous day.

Day 16. The top view sees an explosion in sprouts.

Day 16. The hot spot is growing.

Day 16. What a view as new sprouts pop up.



The Herf on Harang 2009

Greetings Friends,

here are some pictures of the herf that Cigar Weekly's own Thomas Bender (TommyBB) hosted at his house this past Saturday, May 2. He graciously opens his home to the cigar-smoking elite that is CW every spring and he throws on a mean crawfish boil complete with snacks and suds! I look forward to this event every year and it is always a pleasure chatting it up with the crew that makes it down to NOLA. I went this year with my buddy, Mike (who is mtusa312). I was also able to pass out some sticks of Devil's Weed to my dear friends. (Last year, they missed our first shipment by a week!) It is always great to hear their opinions about and their take on the industry and personal reviews regarding other cigars. Boy, do they have excellent palates! Thanks again to TommyBB and Mrs. TommyBB. Can't wait until next year!

The crawfish boiling technicians are hard at work.

The gang is foaming at the mouth to dig in!

A typical New Orleanian crawfish pile!

Luis (Mr. Puro)

Tinderbox Metairie Event

Greetings Friends,

I wanted to post some pictures of the event we had in Tinderbox Metairie's store on April 23, 2009. Thanks to Joe, Larry, Bill and Ed for hosting us and making this event successful. It was a pleasure meeting the great customers at Tinderbox Metairie and we hope to come back soon! By the way, the Scotch was a nice complement with a stick of Devil's Weed.

Spreading the good word of the leaf at TB. I especially like the anti-smoking sign next to ours.

Whew! Mr. Lee gives his approval of Devil's Weed!

Getting the scoop with a cigar in hand.

Out of focus, but loving the DW.

Helping answer some questions.

The security guard is making sure everyone is smoking.

He told me he was going to smoke a DW after his pipe session.

Light it up!

The crowd is enjoying it!
Oh, the shenanigans at Tinderbox!
Some Devil's Weed T-shirt winners.

The gentlemen of Tinderbox Metairie

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