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Frustrated smokers grow their own

It's not easy, but nicotine addicts can save some big bucks.

By Karen Datko Oct 18, 2009 5:37PM

Among the lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and green beans, a new crop has sprung up in the gardens of inveterate smokers. They're growing tobacco, The Associated Press reports. This gives new meaning to "roll your own."

The substantial federal tax increase on tobacco products on April 1 apparently sparked this avocation. And, it turns out, do-it-yourselfers can save serious dough (although not nearly as much as they would if they'd quit).

"Cigarettes cost an average of $4.35 a pack; home growers can make that amount for about 30 cents," the AP says.

There's lots of information online about how to grow your own crop, which is much more complicated than, say, planting zucchini. How To Grow Tobacco is one such site, AP notes, and a place to vent if you're a smoker who feels oppressed.

You'll also find interesting comments like this one: "Organic tobacco. Sounds very good. I do garden organically, and am interested in healthy food choices."

What are the drawbacks to this enterprise (which is legal as long as you don't sell your crop)? Quite frankly, even if we were so inclined, this seems like too much work.

  • Plants from the tiny seeds should to be started indoors.
  • Once transplanted, they need fertilizer and plenty of water.
  • Watch out for plant diseases and insect pests.
  • You've got to remove the terminal buds and the suckers.

So far, not so bad, but now comes the hard part: After harvest, you've got to cure the leaves in a building with the proper temperature and humidity. The homegrown-tobacco fan in this story at plans to use an old corn crib.

Then there's aging, which can take a year or more. "For the home gardener, aging will probably be at least as difficult as proper curing," says a post at How To Grow Stuff.

Also, AP says, even though homegrown doesn't have additives, evidence suggests it's no safer than the tobacco in store-bought cancer sticks.

Published Aug. 21, 2009


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