Super Roll winner, Bill Hroncich shares his garden state experiment with Team La Gloria. Check out his words and images below. We will be following up with Bill in the spring for an update on his tobacco plants.
Hand rolling a cigar is only a small part of the process of a fine smoke. Everything starts with the raw materials. This sparked my interest in seeing what I could achieve in my own backyard. I am fairly familiar with the construction and manufacturing of hand rolled cigars. I actually won the Super Roll preliminary in Atlantic City, NJ in April of 2004. I was then trained by the good people of La Gloria Cubana in Miami and went on to win the finals in 2005. This spring I decided to have a little experiment in my own backyard. There is a good reason New Jersey is called the Garden State.
The seeds for the tobacco plants Nicotiana tabacum in the following pictures were acquired over the internet from New Hope Seed Company, Bon Aqua TN. Because of space, I only kept 6 plants. The varieties are Connecticut Broadleaf, Havana 263 and Barnette Special. All specimens were started indoors the second week of March 2010 and transplanted the last week of April.
The medium the plants are grown in was initially composted and fertilized with 5-10-5 fertilizer. For a supplementary fertilizer the plants have been treated with the yeast dredges from another hobby of mine “Home Brewing” Several years ago when cleaning up my primary fermentation container I had deposited the yeast dredges of a batch of beer in the corner of my yard. Within a week the grass in the immediate area turned a dark thick rich bluish green. From that point forward I always use this byproduct on all my garden plants.
As you can imagine there are some general concerns as far as garden pests and the use of insecticides. I try to keep away from chemical and treat heavily with diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous earth is non toxic and can be applied right up to the point of harvest.
As of July 1, I have been harvesting choice leaves and started to dry them. This is the one process I am not that familiar with. I know the drying and fermentation of the leaves is a very complex process. The humidity and temperature have to be consistent. The leaves have to be turned regularly and the aging process can take years. This by far is a very manual hands on process and it is giving me a new insight and appreciation of a good cigar and the people who process the tobacco.
My Garden State Tobacco Experiment is going to be an on-going venture. I will be planting more plants this Spring and continue to see what this years harvest will yield. For now you can find me in my backyard in Hazlet, NJ enjoying a La Gloria Series R maduro #6.