Sunday, 28 August 2011

Panic harvest.

It's been howling with wind all day, a nasty cold one from the North. Several of my plants have toppled and quite a few leaves are shredded. The ones next to the North-end fence are better but they're struggling too.

So I'm busily picking the leaves that are of decent size (and haven't been torn to bits yet) and threading them onto wire. I still have to check on the greenhouse - haven't dared open it yet.

This isn't the hurricane, that's still half a planet away and anyway I'm on the east coast of Scotland so it isn't likely to get this far. This is just normal bloody Scottish weather.

I've also picked some flowers as suggested by Rose in comments, discarded the petals, stamens and style and just kept the green bits for drying. Question - should I just keep the sepals or do I get to burn Dreadful Arnott's ovaries too?

Back later - I have leaves to thread.


Anonymous said...

Yes you do.

Anyway it would take far too long to dissect them all.

"It took quite a time to dry the blossoms. If the weather was damp and murky for several days, my father, on appearance of the sun again, would move the hide over to a place where the sun shining through the smoke hole, would fall on the blossoms. The smoke hole, being rather large, would let through quite a strong sunbeam, and the drying blossoms were kept directly in the beam."

But I found that by laying the tobacco sepals on a piece of kitchen roll folded to fit on top of the modem, the gentle heat dried them perfectly.

On the windowsill they either scorched or rotted.


Anonymous said...

The temperature in Scotland being what it is, this might be useful for your rescued leaves.

"You can speed up the process slightly by crushing the mid-rib, but be warned that the sap in the mid-rib is like an acid to the other tobacco leaves. If you crush the mid-rib, you must hang your tobacco up within a couple of hours.

"Another way to speed up the drying and colour change process of your tobacco leaves is to stack them and cover them with a blanket or a rug to keep the heat in. The tobacco leaves will then sweat like compost, which speeds up the colour change. The pile needs turning daily, with the inner leaves moved to the outside."


John Pickworth said...

Hopefully, once the harvest is in you can pour yourself a drink and have a little read to relax...

Telegraph: Children whose parents divorce 'more likely' to become binge drinkers

You'd better open another bottle.

banned said...

L-I "I'm on the east coast of Scotland so it isn't likely to get this far."
Yes it will, about this time next week.

Leg-iron said...

Thanks, Rose. I knew you'd have the answer. Flowerbits are nestling on the modem now.

John - for those fake-science studies, I need to hit the bottle before I read. As they presumably did before they wrote.

Banned - by the time it gets here it'll be an improvement.

Anonymous said...


When you find something as fascinating as this -

Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden

As Recounted by
Maxi'diwiac (Buffalo Bird Woman) (ca.1839-1932)
of the Hidatsa Indian Tribe

Originally published as
Agriculture of the Hidatsa Indians: An Indian Interpretation

With her detailed and carefully explained instructions,I thought it would be churlish not to at least try some of them out.

I didn't oil them after they had dried out though, the solanesol in the sepals will have to do.

If you are interested,this has some excellent pictures of the various old varieties including, on some,close-ups of the flowers.


Anonymous said...

How annoying is this?

Having previously done it by the book and not being pleased with the results,I thought I would just bother with the flowers this year.

In consequence the plants, having been sown in January for a longer season, all summer have been slowly turning yellow and then drying out all by themselves,still on the plant.

I just tried one, it's better than all my attempts so far.

Why it is a really bad idea to cure your tobacco on the stalk - from 1890

"Few men will be prepared to believe when told all the evils that can be traced directly to the pernicious and wasteful way of curing tobacco on the stalk. We have said before and here repeat that to the foolish system of curing on the stalk can be traced nearly all the unsound or funked tobacco found on our markets; a vast and useless consumption of fuel; the building of countless numbers of curing barns, and the waste of at least one-third of the entire crop that is grown in our fields. It causes the construction of the huge prize houses, with all the redrying paraphernalia that cost vast sums of money and adds to one's insurance and expenses in countless ways.

Mr. Editor, let us look into the matter and make an itemized account against the tobacco stalk, and foot up the figures and see how much longer we can afford to keep the stalk at the double duty of both growing and curing tobacco. "

But not if the stalk is still in the ground, it appears.


Leg-iron said...

Rose - my only option for leaving them on the plant would be the ones in the greenhouse. It'll be frosty again before the outside ones are ready.

Worth a go, though.

Anonymous said...

LI- The Indian solution.

Harvesting the Plants

"About harvest time, just before frost came, the rest of the plants were gathered–the stems and leaves, I mean, left after the harvesting of the blossoms. My father attended to this. He took no basket, but fetched the plants in his arms.

He dried the plants in the lodge near the place where the cache pit lay. For this he took sticks, about fifteen inches long, and thrust them over the beam between two of the exterior supporting posts, so that the sticks pointed a little upwards. On each of these sticks he hung two or three tobacco plants by thrusting the plants, root up, upon the stick, but without tying them.

When dry, these plants were taken down and put into a bag; or a package was made by folding over them a piece of old tent cover; and the package or bag was stored away in the cache pit.

When the tobacco plants were quite dry, the leaves readily fell off"

It's my own fault, I should have listened more carefully to the experts.

"I do not remember that my father ever saved any of the blossoms to store away in the cache pit, as he did the stem, or plant tobacco. Friends and visitors were always coming and going; and when they came into the lodge my father would smoke with them, using the blossoms first, because they were his best tobacco. In this way, the blossoms were used up about as fast as they were gathered."

Got that wrong too, I saved mine for a year to age them.
Wrong. They are much nicer freshly dried.


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