Saturday, 3 September 2011

Back to nature, man.

Have you ever sucked your own plums?

It's a great feeling, to munch on something you've grown yourself. Even better when it's effortless, because I do nothing beyond light pruning to that plum tree and it's actually bending under the weight of plums this year. Tomatoes involve some work, but not much, and those reached the roof of the greenhouse a while ago. If all the flowers turn to tomatoes I'll be making my own ketchup. Chilli plants are huge and covered with green chillis but there's been too little sunshine to turn them red this year. Even the tomatoes have to be taken indoors to turn red. i will have to try that with the chillis.

Soon I hope to be smoking home grown tobacco too. I've seen a wide range of curing options, from simply dunking the dried leaves in boiling water and re-drying them, to some bizarre ritual involving boiling them for an hour with brown sugar, honey and glycerine followed by pressing in a purpose-bought device. Sod that. The entire point of this exercise was to see if it could save money and if I have to buy in a load of gear, I might as well just buy my tobacco in Tesco.

I'm not likely to end up with much smokeable baccy after this. My garden is too small for more than a few plants although there is a large area of waste ground behind the house and if seeds were to accidentally blow over there, well it's not my fault...

At the moment, I break even if I make two ounces and looking at the leaves I have drying, if they all dry properly I'll be quids in. Even if half of them go mouldy I'm still in profit. Plus, of course, next year I'll have learned from the blunders I made this year and I won't have to buy buckets and trays so my starting costs will be much lower.

None of this would ever have happened if not for the antismoking lobby and the refusal of either the tobacco industry or the pub industry to speak up for their customers. I'm an outcast, and outcasts learn to look after themselves. I spend no money in pubs and if this comes off, I eventually won't even be spending money with Man with a Van. Especially not when plain packaging arrives.

Once tobacco comes in plain packaging, it will be pretty much impossible to spot the fakes. You won't know if you're buying something that's twenty percent real tobacco and eighty percent dried lawn clippings. Not even if you buy it in a shop. If a smoker can't see the difference in the packets - indeed, can't even see the packets before buying - how would a non-smoking shopkeeper know if he's stocking the genuine product or a criminal's fake?

So growing tobacco is not just an affectation. It could soon reach the day where the only tobacco I can trust will be that I've grown myself.

The tobacco companies ignored us whenever the tax went up. They ignored us when we were thrown out of practically everywhere. They cut supplies to the cheaper countries we could buy from. They have taken no interest in the losses incurred by those robbed by UKBA. Now, all of a sudden, they are battling plain packaging. For the sake of their customers? No, because the counterfeiters will find it easy to fake plain packets and this is the only thing that will affect tobacco company profits. Don't imagine those companies care about their customers. They are not your friends.

When UKBA steal a legitimate shopper's tobacco, the tobacco companies don't mind at all. They know the smoker will just have to buy more and they've already banked the profit on the stolen goods. To hell with them. Tobacco is not at all hard to grow. I have six-foot plants on my first try, and I live north of Aberdeen. Unfortunately the wind mashed a few of them and the slugs have a liking for chewing tobacco but there were bound to be mistakes on the first go. There will be mistakes in the curing process too, but I'll get the hang of it.

We can't even rely on the tobacco companies when it comes to battling the Nazis. And yes, Nazis is the correct term. You can stuff your Godwin where the sun don't shine. Take a look at the thought processes described in Dick Puddlecote's latest offering:

Linda Bauld, professor of socio-management at Stirling University's Institute for Social Marketing, says she was unprepared for the scale of the personal attacks aimed at discrediting her work on smoking behaviour and anti-smoking legislation.

I believe, absolutely, that she is telling the truth. She genuinely did not expect anyone to get angry, she thought she could just lie and everyone would be calm and accept her lies as truth. Really. She is not pretending here. I've had dealings with this kind of creature in the past and doublethink doesn't even come close to describing their minds.

It is exactly the same mindset that could not understand why anyone would be upset about the gassing of Jews. They are only Jews/smokers/fat people/burger eaters/drinkers/salt addicts. It's not as if they are real people. What's everyone getting so upset about? That is the mindset we are dealing with.

It is unpalatable, yes. Hard to believe, yes. If I wrote such a character into one of my scary stories you'd all scoff and say I'd gone beyond the bounds of credibility. This is not a story. They are real. These are the real bogeymen, the real monsters, and Hollywood could never come close to putting them on screen.

Linda Bauld really, genuinely and absolutely did not expect anyone to get at all upset when she called for the denormalisation of one set of human beings just because she disapproves of the way they live. The antismoker comments you see on blogs, forums and newspapers are the same mindset. They are the reason Hitler came to power, the reason Vlad the Impaler could get so many sharpened poles, the reason the Spanish Inquisition grew to such strength, the reason homosexuals are hung from cranes and rape victims are stoned to death in other countries to this day.

It's that mindset that goes beyond 'I don't approve of that' and into 'People who do that are not human, therefore real humans are certain to support me when I want them gone'. Linda Bauld is shocked at death threats. Read the papers. Read the comments. Smokers and fat people get death threats every day. Linda's sort don't see a problem with that. They really and honestly don't expect any backlash at all.

Nazism is only the most recent official incarnation of this mindset. It has always been there. It always will be. It's here again and it will be back in the future. I call them the Righteous for a reason.

They absolutely, genuinely believe they are doing this for our own good. They absolutely, genuinely believe that only they know the correct way to live and the rest of us will thank them for forcing us onto the one true path. They simply cannot understand why we would object to being ordered to live our one and only life the way they want to live theirs.

It is, I know, difficult to comprehend. It took me quite some time. The difference between us and them is that it is possible for us to comprehend their minds (even though it's disgusting) but they will never consider any viewpoint other than their own.

That's why they always fall. Our enemy is entirely predictable and cannot pass for long as one of us. Their enemy is adaptable and can pass for a long time as one of them (ASH still haven't found me in their midst). Even with it explained to them, they cannot and will not see it. How can they be wrong? They are perfect.

The next fall looks like it will happen within my lifetime. Cracks are showing, fortresses are crumbling, the indoctrinated have been pushed to the brink and are about to topple over it. As my favourite fictional character, the Joker, once said: "All it takes is a little push". The Righteous don't see it and never will. They never have. Once again, they will fall.

Unfortunately, they will always rise again.

As for allies in this, forget the tobacco companies. To them, smokers are the same milk cows the taxman sees. Back to nature. Grow your own.

Isn't that the mantra these days?


Sike said...

How I cured my tobacco -lay out the leaves in the sun until the leaves go yellow.Then I threaded the leaves on thin wire through the thick central rib.Then I hung the bundles up in the kitchen. The leaves need to be quite warm (room temp)for the cure to happen -its a slow chemical reaction. Dont let the leaves totally dry out (you can steam them with a kettle if they dry too much).Central heated rooms are probably not humid enough ,my kitchen was a good place for me,the garden shed was a bad place for curing, but DONT let them go mouldy.(easier said than done).
You can smoke the leaves after they dry but they will taste quite bad and stink like a burning compost heap unless you leave them for about 3 months at least when they should be fragrant and tobacco colored.

JuliaM said...

"Chilli plants are huge and covered with green chillis but there's been too little sunshine to turn them red this year. Even the tomatoes have to be taken indoors to turn red."

Well, you might be cheered to know it's the same down in the supposedly-sunny South this year. Lots of flowers on my chillies, no actual chillies. And the tomatoes we have picked haven't been much good.

Bill Sticker said...

Hell of a lot of plums and apples this year. Lots of blackberries, and we've even got serious amounts of grapes ripening on our vine out back. I'm having trouble processing it all there's so much. Have run out of jars until I can get to the store tomorrow.

Experiments with bread baking have produced a very serviceable Ciabatta style loaf though. To the point where I've stopped buying store bought bread. Hunting season soon, and we already have one decent salmon in the freezer. My only problem is will there be enough room?

subrosa said...

Disappointed in the plums this year as they're not ripening owing to lack of sunshine. They taste ok but will be better for jam or pickle because most have an unripe side.

Apples doing well and salad has been wonderful.

I may just have a bash at the baccy thing next year - once I've heard of your trials and tribulations. :)

Anonymous said...

We've just got the first crop of plums on our two year old Victoria, they are delicious beyond words.

My chillies were over-wintered in the house and went out in June so they have been cropping for a while, though they are a bit small.

The sweet pepper experiment has proved that growing sweet peppers outside here is a complete waste of time, they are still green and small.

But sowing in January and growing them in the house until July has resulted in huge ripe fruits equally as big as in the supermarket and they are now well into their second crop.

Junican gave me a great tip on how to ripen tomatoes in a greenhouse from his observations in the Azores.

Science: Hormones for Plants – TIME
Monday, Oct. 15, 1945

“Portuguese growers in the Azores knew a century ago that burning wood in their hothouses made the pineapples ripen quicker. (It was the ethylene gas in the wood smoke.)”,9171,792440,00.html

All this hard work followed by relaxing in the sun smoking a tobacco flower cigarette.

It appears to be 8 flowers to a filtered cigarette, ready as soon as they are properly dry.

According to the original homegrowers, you smoke the flowers all summer and the leaves in winter.

Amazing, isn't it? I didn't know any of this 5 years ago.


Mark Wadsworth said...

Re Chili plants: they are great fun to grow, you just chuck seeds from a chili in some soil. But he problem that we have is that the plants always die off after one crop? Is this normal, surely you should be able to grow chili trees which last for ever?

Anonymous said...

Chillies are perennials and they do overwinter in the house. Even the jalapenos did, which they are not supposed to do.

My Numex Twilight is now three years old, so theoretically you could at least grow a chilli bush, if you have a conservatory, which sadly, I don't.


Conan the Librarian™ said...

You have let poor innocent slugs become addicted to tobacco?

It's the SSPCA for you boyo...

Dick Puddlecote said...

Great article, LI.

The part in there concerning anti-smokers having no qualms about insulting smokers was spot on. I have a personal anecdote which illustrates this perfectly. It's a bit long for here, but I may write about it one day soon if I can find the time.

Anonymous said...


Make sure you source your seeds properly and that they have not been GM'ed to be single crop seeds only.
Monsanto are famous for this behavior.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Anon, we've never bought chili seeds, we just use the ones that come free inside fresh chilis.

Anonymous said...

If your tomatoes and chillies are slow to ripen just throw a couple of bananas on the floor of the green house and keep the door and vents shut. simples.

westcoast2 said...

I'm letting my tobacco dry yellowish in the (sometimes) sun then hanging them in one of those small plastic 'greenhouses'. These can get quite humid, though there is no way to control it. See how it goes.

Anonymous said...


In that case it may well be that the source chillies are GM. Normally chilli should reseed without any problems.

selsey.steve said...

O/T I know, but I thought that you might like this:-
"<="" a="">The wily Britblogger Leg Iron had a typically amusing take on rendering psychosomatic injury to our good, trembling antismoking friends. Check it out:

"They will think that because I smoke, I can give them a disease. I can. I can give you high blood pressure and possibly a heart attack, maybe even an aneurysm, just by standing near you. Not because of any real toxins but simply because you believe it. I can induce all sorts of psychosomatic symptoms just by sitting next to you on the bus and letting it be known that I smoke. With this level of preconditioning, I can induce real chest pains in people just by describing them. I don't need to be able to hypnotise you first. That's already been done. All I need do is drop in the suggestion."

Seen at

Mark Wadsworth said...

Anon, 15.55, that's not the issue - we buy normal fresh chilis, save some of the seeds and eat the bit you are supposed to eat.

We then plant the seeds, they are quite easy to grow, out of twenty seeds you'll get at least five plants and in a good year, a single plant will give us a dozen new chiis, but the plant then dies off. We've tried this nearly every year for over a decade and all out plants have promptly died off once the chilis were ripe.

If the source fresh chilis were single-use GM, then why would the seeds grow at all?

Anonymous said...

Bloody hell Rose, I've got tobacco flowers staring at me now. Why didn't you tell me this before!.
Must rush.

Angry Exile said...

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. - C.S. Lewis

My wife grabbed my plums and squeezed them, and she was quite happy with the jam she got out of them. Actually they might be damsons, I'm not good with plant names.

Anonymous said...

Anon 18:35

Just the green bits and they have to be 4 days old.

See Leggy's post Panic Harvest.


Anonymous said...

Hmm, I wonder if for mold, if it makes it past the drying/curing stage w/o mold, but because of being so natural w/o additives it's susceptible to mold later on, then wrapped in plastic, closed up in tins, it might keep well in the fridge or freezer w/o going moldy or stale. I read somewhere else for curing to wetten in boiling water and hang to dry in the sun. Microwaving might dry it out faster and leave it crumbly to roll. All good experiments, all made economically feasible thanks to the anti-smoking industry too.

smokervoter said...

There really isn't anything quite as tart and sweet as a plum. When you're a kid, cherries are at the top of the fruit hierarchy. They'd put them at the crowning swirl of an ice cream sundae. Then there's the old saying 'Life's a bowl full of cherries".

When you stop to think about, a plum is a super-sized cherry. You can't ask for anything more than that. I especially like em' when they're just slightly unripened and a little hard and green.

Leg-iron said...

Sike - I have central heating so the house isn't much use for curing. The garage is better but it's not very warm in there. I might need to put together a humidity box.

JuliaM - if there was any truth in global warming, I should be growing Kiwi fruit and grapes outdoors by now. I can't even get good tomatoes in a greenhouse!

Bill - grapes? I need to move somewhere warmer.

Leg-iron said...

Subrosa - I take in the plums as soon as they start to ripen and let them finish indoors. Otherwise the birds and wasps eat the ripe parts.

Rose - I have some small chilli plants I plan to keep in the house over winter. It'll give them a head start next year, and you never know, there might even be a summer next year.

Leg-iron said...

Mark - no idea what's happening there. My first chilli plant was from a garden centre and the seeds from its chillis seem to be fine. Is there such a thing as GM chillis?

Conan - the little sods have been demanding spitoons.

Anon - bananas... worth a try.

Anonymous said...

Most commercial chilli's are annual varieties so will die after cropping,you can get perennial chilli species but none are that long lived.I root a cutting of a habanero when it looks grotty,far easier and quicker than growing from seed.

The Part Time Homesteader said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Part Time Homesteader said...

I was having a discussion once with a vegan, and the following is a direct copy/paste of something he said:

"i'm against authoritarianism, but i also want people to do good selfless acts to look after the world and the people in it, and i want people to not do bad things. if we just won't do that ourselves then i'd be happy for the government to force us to do that"

Bear in mind that the "bad things" he is talking about is... wait for it... eating meat!!

Spoken like a true "liberal" :)

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it...

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