Why not grow a poppy patch? Here’s how… pt.3: harvesting & processing

Our flowers are almost grown and ready for processing. We planted at the appropriate time and cultivated for the biggest juiciest pods possible, and things are looking very well.

When looking for the harvesting signs, there are things to consider. First, timing is important: too soon, and you will have wasted some time and effort by picking your flowers before their inner beauty will have reached full potential; too late, and some of the alkaloids (perhaps 10%) will have been lost to time and the weather (too much rain can wash even more of them away… remember this!).

From planting to bloom is about ten to twelve weeks (add a couple of weeks for hens & chicks); and when the petals fall off (two or three days after bloom) to peak harvest is about two weeks, maybe a little longer. After the petals fall from the flower, the pod should swell dramatically to its finished size within this time. Your poppies won’t all flower or swell at the same time, so the easiest way to tell when the waxy-looking bluish-green pods are ready is by looking at the crowns on top of each, which will be curled straight up from flat… easily witnessed.

The following section is theoretical, educational and meant for curious inquiry; it in no way endorses the use of papaver somniferum for any use other than ornamental growing. Technically, growing somniferum is illegal in Canada, but tolerated if grown in small quantities for ornamental purposes. The use of this plant for any intention other than growing has resulted in a prosecution thus far.

Though criminalising individuals for growing flowers may seem draconian, keep in mind that the State knows you better than you know yourself and understands what’s best for you. It matters not that you haven’t hurt anyone nor taken from anyone that which doesn’t belong to you; the fact that you grow flowers and drink the tea made from them is offensive to society and can… somehow… hurt society (don’t ask how, just accept this).

…ohh,ho,ho yes… the moment we’ve been waiting for; all our work, our labour of love, our hopes and dreams, nurturing and waiting… have focused and come to this moment…

TEA TIME!!!   WHOO, HOOO!!    :D

Okay, now that the pods are ready, we have a couple of choices for drying, and two choices for processing; we can pull up whole plants, tie them in bundles and hang them upside down to dry in a ventilated area if we have the space and inclination, or we can simply take a knife or shears to the garden and cut the pods off with four inches of stem attached and lay them on cardboard in a well ventilated room until they are completely dry. They say (the wise poppymen again) the advantage of hanging whole plants is that alkaloids in the stem and roots can drain into the pod for added potency. I don’t know if this has been tested or is complete bullshit. If drying on cardboard however, it’s important to space the pods and turn them occasionally; this prevents mold, which is a real concern…

…I should add that the stems, leaves and roots have a measure of alkaloids that may be exploited by loosely chopping and very gently simmering in water for a few hours to obtain the alkaloids, which may then be very gently and patiently oven-evaporated over some days to condense and freeze-store the resulting liquor; it may be worth doing this if you don’t have an ideal amount of product… maybe add some acidic lemon juice to help with extraction.

*Note that I won’t be giving instruction on scoring pods for black tar opium; this is an invitation for a door-kicking from our finest. I really don’t recommend this and hope you don’t do this; it’s too conspicuous and a good way to ensure that, eventually, no one will be growing poppies.

When our pods are dry, they must be processed. Process them all at once, because each pod can have a different potency, and it is just too precarious to grind up a few pods as needed for tea; please be aware that an overdose can kill you, and simply grinding pods as needed can do it… …not fun.

…So, remove the seeds and grind all the pods at once to a fine powder called dode or doda with a tough coffee grinder. When ground, mix the dode with a large spoon or spatula for 5-10 minutes to ensure an even mix. Save the seeds from the best pods for next year’s planting and the rest for cooking etc; they make a great curry paste. 

Put the dode in large freezer bags and store in the freezer.

Dosage is different for everyone. I strongly suggest you start at a low dose of 4 gms, then slowly each session, gm by gm, work your way up using a high quality scale until you have achieved your “lifting” dose. I think it’s very important to remind you to not start dragon-chasing; you will be disappointed at the way your tolerance builds, the greater amount of product you have to take, the fact that you simply are not getting high anymore, the enormous simian that has jumped on to your back and the surprising and horrifying way you’re getting dope-sick every morning…

…trust me; you can’t imagine.

There are two ways to consume dode: the dignified way or the economical way. If you have a lot of product, tea is the way to go. Boil water in a small pot on the stove. When the water is violently boiling, turn it off, add your dode, stir it in and take the pot off the burner. Let it sit with a lid on for fifteen minutes. During this time, eat a grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice for potentiation/enzyme inhibition. Strain tea thoroughly and drink… it doesn’t taste great, so do what you must to make it palatable if you care about this; maple syrup actually makes it quite pleasant.

…Be aware that the alkaloids are easily destroyed by boiling. Avoid this.

Powder in cool water is the other way to consume. This is the economical way (and my way, due to laziness). Less is wasted, but the resulting brew is truly vile. I eat my grapefruit each morning, steel myself for the deed, pray a little prayer to the regurgitation gods and quaff it back, powder and all… apparently it saves me money or something.

…I suppose I should add, for curiosity’s sake, that there is a third way of administration (no, not the needle; but I know you’re not stupid)… it’s very effective too; though I have to say, in my estimation, one must be a bit of a bedlamite to even consider it. If you choose to go this… ehrm, “route”, heaven help your decadent soul.

~Okay; so, we’ve learned how to process dode using the dried-pods method. Another way to process is the freshie-freeze method. If you have enough freezer space, this processing method is more efficient and much more potent, though heavier with more water mass because the pods are never dried, only frozen. Simply pick each pod at peak potency (with 4″ of stem attached), remove the seeds, slice it into small pieces and immediately store the pieces in the freezer in a large container or bag with other pods that have been picked and pieced earlier. Eventually, when all your pods have been picked, pieced and frozen, bring this mass out of the freezer and, while frozen, pound it into even smaller pieces (do this quickly, before it thaws), then store it back into the freezer in freezer bags. Note that the alkaloids in freshies are very bitter compared to dried pods (some folks can’t deal with this), and the potency is much higher (so be very careful and use a weight-scale, not a measuring spoon or cup!). Because of the heightened potency of freshies, it is important to mix, mix, mix all your pods into a single consistent-dose mass (just like dried pod powder) before storing in smaller freezer bags.

Some people like to add freshie-dode into smoothie-type shakes while others with stronger constitutions simply blend with water or juice, and down the hatch!

So there you go; from seed to deed in three parts… happy growing!

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