Tobacco is a tropical crop that grows well in subtropical and temperate zones. What it needs is a sunny location and well-drained soils. In poorly drained soils, growth is stunted and the plant may even die.
Seeds of commercial varieties may be found only in tobacco-producing regions. You can search the Internet for seed companies that sell tobacco seeds for home gardens.
Tobacco seeds are very small. You can grow them in a tray with damp soil, but be careful not to wash the seeds away when you water. The tray should be located in a greenhouse or a protected area. The seeds need fertilizer to grow into transplants. You can use the same fertilizer manufactured for tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes.
You should plant your seeds at least two months before your desired date of transplanting. The seedlings are ready for transplant when they are 6 – 8 inches in height.
Prepare the soil before transplanting by cleaning the trash and burying it into the ground. You can rake leaves and muck, burn it and plough the ash into the soil.
Bedding will provide better drainage. Plants should be spaced two feet apart. It is best to transplant during wet weather. Otherwise, water the transplants immediately and as often as needed.
If you cleaned and selected the right soil, soil pest problems will be avoided. Weeds can be pulled out by hand. Tobacco should be protected from insect pests such as budworms and aphids. Consult your local pest guide.
If you are growing the tobacco for curing, you should top it, or remove the terminal bud, as soon as the flower forms. This allows the upper leaves to get larger and thicker.
Suckers will develop at each leaf soon after topping. They should also be removed by hand to prevent them from reducing yield quantity and quality.
When the plant seems fully grown and takes on a yellowish cast, it is ready for harvest. Curing tobacco needs to be done by adding heat, or it may be air cured. If you are a home gardener, you may not have the facilities for curing tobacco. You can try to locate other producers in your area who may have curing facilities.
You can cure tobacco without heat in a building with good circulation. It takes a few weeks to cure tobacco properly.