Archive for 19th June 2009

Defending pumpkins from nightmare summer gales

Defending pumpkins from nightmare summer gales

Tobacco is being grown in the walled garden at the Phoenix Park – but only for its flowers, writes FIONNUALA FALLON

Tobacco plants just after planting

IT’S NOW exactly 70 years since tobacco, or Nicotiana Tabacum, was last grown on a commercial basis in Ireland, with the formal dissolution of the Co-operative Tobacco Growers Society of County Meath in 1939 finally ending that county’s (and the country’s) long-standing association with the crop.

And while Sir Nugent Everard, one-time landlord and owner of the 300-acre Randlestown Estate near Navan, is the man credited with attempting to revive the tradition of tobacco-growing in Ireland, it was another landowner in a different Irish county, several centuries earlier, who first introduced the plant to Europe.

When Sir Walter Raleigh first sowed seeds of tobacco on his estate in Youghal, Co Cork back in 1548, he could hardly have imagined the far-reaching consequences of his actions. Almost half a millennium later, the World Health Organisation estimates that there are now nearly 1.3 billion smokers worldwide, with about 15 million cigarettes sold daily, while smoking-related diseases kill one-in-10 adults globally. As someone once said, it’s now been proven beyond doubt that smoking is one of the leading causes of statistics.

In the OPW’s walled garden in the Phoenix Park, gardener Brian Quinn has decided once again to grow the tobacco plant, in an experiment that he describes as part historical, part botanical.

“Don’t worry, I won’t be smoking it,” he laughs. “I’m just interested in the history of the plant and attempts to grow it in Ireland commercially as a crop. Tobacco had other uses too – it was once popular as a natural insecticide, because the high nicotine content kills aphids and spider mites.

“It’s not recommended for use in organic gardens anymore, so I won’t be using it as a pest-control. I’m just curious to see how it grows.”

Brian sowed his tobacco seed in a heated propagator back in mid-spring, and the bushy, large-leaved young plants are now ready to go outdoors. “You treat it like any other tender annual plant (it’s closely related to the ornamental and sweetly-scented bedding plant, Nicotiana Sylvestris).

It needs a fertile, really well-manured soil in full sun, but not too dry. The plants like it dampish but well-drained.”

He’s going to grow two types of tobacco in the walled garden – Virginia Gold and Mountain Tobacco, which he sourced from US suppliers, www.seedman.com through the internet.

“Virginia Gold is a tallish, smoking variety that reaches about 5ft tall, while Mountain Tobacco is a smaller, ornamental plant, with yellow-green flowers, which was popular with the Navajo Indians.

“When I started researching the plant, I was amazed at how many varieties are still being grown and used to make cigars, cigarettes, pipe tobacco and chewing tobacco.”

As it’s a plant that he’s unfamiliar with, Brian’s been getting some tips on cultivating tobacco from a Polish friend living in Dublin, Pawel Majka, whose father grows tobacco as a commercial crop back in Poland. “Pawel told me to space the plants about 3ft apart, and to feed them really well. Along with loads of manure, I’ll spread the granular fertiliser Osmo around the roots after planting. In Poland, they ‘top’ the plant, cutting off the flower-bud as soon as it forms, to encourage the plant to produce even bigger, thicker leaves. But I’m interested in seeing the flowers, so I won’t be doing that. I’m expecting the flowering plants to look really impressive in the walled garden.”

Which, of course, they will, if they look anything like their sweetly-scented cousins, whose large green leaves and trumpet-shaped flowers are such a feature of summer bedding schemes.

And while tobacco is one crop Urban Farmer won’t be recommending, it’s fascinating to see a piece of Ireland’s botanical history being revived, nearly five centuries after the seeds of the tobacco plant first arrived here.

Read the full article here

Massachusetts Reaches Tipping Point Says IPCPR and State Tobacconists

Massachusetts Reaches Tipping Point Says IPCPR and State Tobacconists

Apparently State Rep. Ted Speliotis doesn’t believe Massachusetts has gone far enough to control the lives of its citizens, but the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association and its several dozen members statewide believe that the tipping point of public opinion has been reached against legislated deprivation of their individual rights. Speliotis’ bill to essentially ban smoking within 25 feet of windows and entrances of buildings is expected to be reviewed this week at a State House hearing.

Boston, Mass. (PRWEB) June 17, 2009 — Apparently State Rep. Ted Speliotis doesn’t believe Massachusetts has gone far enough to control the lives of its citizens, but the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association and its several dozen members statewide believe that the tipping point of public opinion has been reached against legislated deprivation of their individual rights.

Speliotis’ bill to essentially ban smoking within 25 feet of windows and entrances of buildings is expected to be reviewed this week at a State House hearing.

People are complaining today that governments at all levels have gone too far by intruding on their lives and taking away more and more of their rights

Well, a smoking ban such as proposed by Speliotis only serves to embolden legislators to deprive more and more people of their rights in an ever widening variety of categories . That’s why smokers and non-smokers alike should take a stand against legislated smoking bans of any kind.

What hypocrisy! Many of the same state and federal legislators who vote for smoking bans or over-the-top tax increases on tobacco enjoy cigars and pipes or smoke cigarettes whenever they get a chance. Businesses should be left to decide for themselves to allow smoking or not and customers can patronize them or not. That’s the American way

“People are complaining today that governments at all levels have gone too far by intruding on their lives and taking away more and more of their rights,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR. “Well, a smoking ban such as proposed by Speliotis only serves to embolden legislators to deprive more and more people of their rights in an ever widening variety of categories . That’s why smokers and non-smokers alike should take a stand against legislated smoking bans of any kind.”

McCalla cites the Federal Reserve Bank which uses data supplied by the Bureau of Statistics to prove that jobs are lost and businesses are threatened in areas where smoking bans are tolerated.

Stephen Willett, owner of tobacconist L. J. Peretti Co., a family operated business in Boston for nearly 140 years, agrees. He is among the Massachusetts members of IPCPR who, along with their customers, are even more strident in their opposition to government control over lifestyle decisions.

“What hypocrisy! Many of the same state and federal legislators who vote for smoking bans or over-the-top tax increases on tobacco enjoy cigars and pipes or smoke cigarettes whenever they get a chance. Businesses should be left to decide for themselves to allow smoking or not and customers can patronize them or not. That’s the American way,” said Willett.

“For nearly a century and a half, our business has survived wars, weather, depressions and other man-made and natural disasters. However, the recent actions of our local, state and federal governmental bodies have hurt us the most. They’ve raised tobacco taxes too high in order to pay for programs they can’t afford. They’ve restricted smoking or banned it outright in order to control us, which denies us of our constitutional rights,” Willett said.

“Our customers are outraged and have reached the tipping point on issues like this that deprive them of their rights,” he added.