I'll miss the tobacco flowers when the season ends. The plants are still pumping out loads for now but October is coming and a frost will finish this growing season. We are supposed to have fine weather next week so I'll get the last of the leaves in. Seeds will most likely come from the greenhouse plants because I can leave those a little longer.
Following tips from Rose in the comments, I pick flowers that are just starting to turn from pink to lilac. Once they've gone completely lilac it's too late, but they'll produce seeds so they won't be wasted. Twist out the 'flowery' bits and keep the green end piece (see that - I avoided all technical references there). Again, following Rose's tip, I dry these on a paper towel in a little plastic tray sitting on the router. Once dry, chop them up and smoke them.
A whole cigarette of flowers is an experience but it's a bit much for me. I sprinkle some chopped flowers into a roll-up made of Amber Leaf (my drying/curing experiment wth my own leaves is ongoing) and it completely changes the character of the tobacco. So far I have not tried it in public, I suspect someone is going to mistake it for pot and the average policeman would take some convincing that it's not. It was well received at Smoky-Drinky but they won't get any more from me this year. I won't have this source for much longer. Next year they can grow their own and get the sticky flowers all over their own fingers.
I can see why you can't buy this part of the plant commercially. It's just not economically viable to have someone pick flowers apart and when they dry, the volume is greatly reduced. It's viable when you only have a few plants but a whole field? Nobody is going to bother. If they did, the costs incurred in collection and preparation would mean only Government ministers could afford it.
They are great though. Entirely free of additives too. Unlike readymade cigarettes, which are loaded with something to keep them burning and soon to be loaded with something to make them kill smokers faster. So far that's not proposed for rolling papers but it'll come. I'll stock up with papers and practise with my pipe. It's easier to chop the homegrown stuff into pipe-size slices rather than cigarette-size shreds and let's not forget cigars which involve very little chopping and have no paper at all.
I wonder what they'll do to make cigars more toxic? In fact, I wonder if they've already done it?
As to drying leaves, a steamer can revive overdry ones but if they dry too fast so they're crispy and still green, they're ruined.
Well, I plan to enjoy the flowers while I can. With any luck I'll be completely free of the commercial product soon, although I don't think I'll have enough to last until next year's crop. Especially when those experimental losses are taken into account. Maybe next year, when I've learned from this year's mistakes, will be more productive.
No matter, the whole experiment has cost around the UK price of a two-ounce pack of tobacco and the flowers alone are worth it. Anything else is a bonus.
I wonder if they are the flowers Otway meant?