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Pure, Natural Coca Leaf – A Healing Gift Of The Divine Plant


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The Coca Cultivators Handbook

For the past few years I’ve been hoping that somebody who has actually grown Coca in a greenhouse would write a little guide for growers, but probably for some very good reasons it looks like nobody is going to take that chance. So I thought I would do the best job possible working mainly with historical data. Also just for fun I’ve also priced it the same as my first Cultivators Handbook of Marijuana in 1969 – three bucks. I hope that makes it easy to own and read, and I hope the ideas in this Handbook can help bring about the liberation of Mama Coca the way the original “Cultivators” helped move things along a little in the early days of the Cannabis revolution.

Even though I’ve been researching Coca history and traditions for a long time by exploring Coca literature from the 1700’s and 1800’s, I never really appreciated how much practical growing advice was scattered throughout this fascinating long-lost literary history. Lost knowledge is a tool waiting to be picked up and used once again, and it has been fun doing just that with the incredible Coca literature of the 1700’s and 1800’s. Not that there aren’t web resources that cover the basics of Coca growing, but it’s another thing altogether to hear voices from hundreds of years ago speaking with passion and authority on every little aspect of their exciting new discovery – the Coca plant and it’s incredible leaf.

Of course what’s missing at this point in Handbook, other than an excellent section by Angelo Mariani on his Paris Coca greenhouses, is any good current information on greenhouse Coca cultivation of the kind that Cannabis growers have gotten very good at. There is no question at all that Coca can be grown indoors with exactly the same technology as Cannabis, and I hope that is already happening in some very private places. Maybe I can help things along a little with some of the information here and then perhaps someone more knowledgeable than me will share what they know too.

As just mentioned, in the Handbook we look at the classic 1880’s Coca greenhouses of Angelo Mariani outside Paris, and explore his advice on growing the very highest quality Coca leaf under glass. Mariani was without doubt the first true connoisseur of Coca Leaf itself and had barely

A handful of magic beans

disguised contempt for the Cocaine craze of his time. His Bordeaux wine-based “Vin Mariani” was celebrated worldwide and set the standard for Coca wine, and he knew more about high-quality Coca Leaf production than any other European or American of his time or probably since. He maintained two first-class Coca plantations in Bolivia and greenhouses in several cities in France, and his advice is simple but definitely gold standard.

So here’s a list of what you’ll find in this first edition, and feel free to click on any of the images in this post to go to Amazon and read inside the book. 

Finally – do you know something you want to share about Coca? I’m calling on readers, growers, botanists and other Friends of Mama Coca to communicate with me and help expand and evolve this resource. Just click HERE to send me a message.

  • The bean is ready!

    Summary Of Coca Cultivation Techniques

  • Coca Cultivation Over The Centuries
  • Coca’s Natural Home Environment
  • Botany of the Coca Plant: Part One
  • Botany of the Coca Plant: Part Two
  • Traditional Andean Coca-Growing Regions
  • Ideal Coca-Growing Conditions
  • The Exquisite Coca Flower
  • The Importance Of Humidity
  • Coca Soils Of The Montaña
  • It’s all good!

    Best Kinds of Earth For Coca Cultivation

  • How To Select Viable Seeds
  • Protecting Seeds & Seedlings
  • Planting Out & Cultivating Coca
  • Daily Life Of A Coca Grower
  • High Quality vs. Inferior Coca Leaf
  • Peruvian vs. Bolivian Leaf – A Comparison
  • Ensuring High Quality Coca Leaves
  • Harvesting & Curing Coca Leaf: Part One
  • Traditional Harvesting Techniques: Part Two
  • Natural Enemies Of Coca
  • Commentaries On Coca
  • Happy leaves

    Searching For Wild Coca

  • Angelo Mariani – Master Coca Grower
  • Coca & Its Therapeutic Properties
  • Proper Cultivation Techniques
  • Harvesting For Maximum Purity & Potency
  • Preparation of the Coca Leaves
  • Coca Leaf – A Better Medicine
  • Natural Medicinal Preparations Of Coca Leaf
  • Your Keys To This Ancient Knowledge

I especially hope that you enjoy reading and exploring the “Keys To Knowledge” hyperlinked bibliography at the end of this little Handbook as much as I enjoyed putting it together for you.


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Growing Medical Coca Leaf In A Greenhouse

         Coca seedlings in beds, ready for dividing into pots

GREENHOUSE & OUTDOOR COCA & COFFEE CULTIVATION

There are a lot of myths about how difficult it is to grow Coca outside of certain traditional sweet spots in the Andes. That may have been true before Cannabis growing under lights came of age but it no longer applies – especially to small, boutique or personal crops of Coca.

For example, it’s true that coca plants grown at higher altitudes produce a higher ratio of Cocaine to the other 20+ important Coca alkaloids compared to Coca grown outdoors at sea level or even low altitudes – below 2000′. But that doesn’t mean that Coca can only be grown successfully in the mountains. It’s just that Coca’s natural environment, the cradle of its evolution, seems to have been in high Andean valleys, so the plant’s response to clean, intense light is in its genes.

Take a good look at Coffee, Coca’s very close alkaloid relative. Coffee plants offer an exact model for Coca cultivation, whether under lights or in a light-assisted greenhouse. “Mountain-grown” coffee has a great reputation for a reason – the coffee plant, which used to be almost exclusively “shade-grown” a century ago, now bathes in intense mountain light in some of the world’s great coffee-growing regions.

 Magic COCA Beans

If the Coca plant could be “shade-grown” and didn’t need a lot of sun and didn’t have to be grown out in the open, the task of Coca cultivators in the Andean nations would be a lot easier. 

It looks like pretty much anywhere in the world you can grow good Coffee you can grow good Coca, and that includes greenhouses with the right kind of lighting at any altitude.

Still, there is a lot to be said for a little altitude. You may have heard coffee called “Java”? That’s because the best coffee in the world in the 1800’s came from Java, and those coffee plantations were right alongside some of the best Coca plantations in the world, also scattered throughout the mountains of Java.

Still there, I hear tell. Maybe some backpackers are walking right past some

Magic COFFEE Beans

rogue Coca bushes right now. Maybe picking a leaf or two for tea a little later in the afternoon.

Kinda makes you feel like trekking, doesn’t it? 

It sure makes me wish … if only I weren’t so old and creaky. But – back to growing your own coffee.

Inquiring minds may well ask – who would want to go to the trouble to grow coffee in a greenhouse? Well, maybe not for the Coffee – but have you ever tried Coffee Leaf tea? Talk about a great way to enjoy something very close to growing Coca in your own greenhouse or plant room.

I first experienced Coffee Leaf tea in Puerto Rico in the 1960’s while visiting a coffee and medicinal herb farm in the mountains. Here’s a Canadian company that sells Coca Leaf tea to Canadians only as of 12/18. If you’re not already living in Canada, maybe you have a friend in Canada. The guy behind this website is a solid free-thinker who built the Canadian Cannabis magazine “Cannabis Culture” into one of the most respected publications in the world, so this is a trustworthy website – unlike some of the transparent “hey – buy your Coca here!” – DEA stings.

Even when more good Coca Leaf tea sources develop online there will still be plenty of reason to grow a little Coffee Leaf yourself at home. Who knows, Coffee tea may become a thing. Cannabis growers may start tucking some Coffee plants in among the Girl Scout Cookies and

               Coca seedlings ready to plant out

Durban Poison. Practice with Coffee now – grow Coca in a couple of years.

Of course, if you live in a country like Canada or the Netherlands where it looks like growing Coca plants is already legal with some limitations, so if you’re already be thinking about having a few plants, why not grow some Coffee plants alongside your Coca?

Coffee Leaf tea is totally unlike the roasted bean, and my research convinces me that it has many of the same benefits as reported for Coca Leaf tea in the medical literature of the 1800’s. Coffee shares many of the same complex alkaloids with Coca, and perhaps the biggest difference is that where Coffee has caffeine as a dominant alkaloid, Coca has Cocaine.

But just like with Coffee – who gets anything but an all-night study session out of Caffeine pills. Who wakes up in the morning, stretches, yawns and then heads to the kitchen for a Caffeine pill? It’s the delicious chemistry of the whole Coffee bean that people love, not the caffeine buzz itself, and one of the greatest shames of the “drug wars” is that the world has been denied the benefits and pleasures of whole Coca leaf while being force-fed the magic buzz of cocaine.

                               The bean is good to go!

Aside from their very similar principal alkaloids,  Coffee and Coca share many of the same array of beneficial alkaloids and other phytochemical properties. And also very interesting, the Coffee and the Coca “Bean” are hard to tell apart, and the seeds inside are quite similar in appearance.

I’ve always wondered if anyone has ever tried drying and roasting Coca seeds just like Coffee beans? Might be interesting.

After all this talk about Coffee, if you’re still reading then Coffee probably interests you. If so, you’ll enjoy this very nicely-done 200 page guide to growing coffee outdoors. The reason I like it so much, other than it being a great grow-book, is that you can pretty much just substitute “Coca” for

                                   It’s A Family Thing

“Coffee” throughout the Guide.  Check out this free downloadable        resource. 

Lots of people are already growing Coffee plants at home. If you want to check out actual greenhouse coffee growing, which is almost exactly the same process as growing Coca, check this coffee research website.

Of course I hope you’ll also take a look at my new “Coca Cultivators Handbook” too.  I may be rushing things a bit with a Coca grow-book, but I’m planting a few seeds and praying for rain.

But back to the first question: why is high altitude always better for Coca?  That’s what all the historical records say, and that’s why all the traditional Cocals are at altitude. Coca plantations in the jungle are only because it

 

                                  A Good Harvest

doesn’t matter to the cocaine trade how high quality the leaves are – you can extract the Cocaine from low-quality jungle leaf just the same. But for highest quality leaf – you have to head for the light- or bring it in. 

The secret to high quality Coffee and Coca leaf is in the ultraviolet part of the light, which becomes more intense and dominant the higher the altitude and the closer you are to the equator.

So if you’re growing outdoors, choose a sunny spot. Duh. But, when you are growing in a greenhouse, since you can produce as much

ultraviolet and other key parts of the spectrum as your Coca plants need to thrive, you’ll be able to experiment and find just the right balance to use throughout their life cycle. Just like with Cannabis, I’m sure that Coca will respond to lighting in ways that only experience can predict, and that experience just isn’t out there yet. When I find it I’ll share it. 

As we all know, to grow great Cannabis indoors you use high-intensity grow lights set up to allow you to vary the spectrum. It’s the same with Coca, the Opium Poppy, Coffee and every other treasured plant growing indoors under lights – there is going to be an ideal spectrum for each point in the plant’s life cycle. I’m pretty sure that you could look at solar data for the Coca regions of the Andes and come up with a pretty good idea of a spectrum map for light-assisted Coca. This is one of those areas where growers will gradually accumulate experience and it will become community knowledge.

Soooo ….

With my grateful thanks to my friends who read this blog and have been asking me to write a book on growing Coca just like Cultivators Handbook of Marijuana I wrote back in 1969 to help kick start the Cannabis revolution – here it is.

The Coca Cultivators Handbook.

Let the games begin.

 

Here are the topics covered in this First Edition – I am asking growers worldwide to contribute your new ideas and practical advice for future editions. I’ll happily give you a byline or you can remain anonymous.

  • Summary Of Coca Cultivation Techniques
  • Coca Cultivation Over The Centuries
  • Coca’s Natural Home Environment
  • Botany of the Coca Plant: Part One
  • Botany of the Coca Plant: Part Two
  • Traditional Andean Coca-Growing Regions
  • Ideal Coca-Growing Conditions
  • The Exquisite Coca Flower
  • The Importance Of Humidity
  • Coca Soils Of The Montaña
  • Best Kinds of Earth For Coca Cultivation
  • How To Select Viable Seeds
  • Protecting Seeds & Seedlings
  • Planting Out & Cultivating Coca
  • Daily Life Of A Coca Grower
  • High Quality vs. Inferior Coca Leaf
  • Peruvian vs. Bolivian Leaf – A Comparison
  • Ensuring High Quality Coca Leaves
  • Harvesting & Curing Coca Leaf: Part One
  • Traditional Harvesting Techniques: Part Two
  • Natural Enemies Of Coca
  • Commentaries On Coca
  • Searching For Wild Coca
  • Angelo Mariani – Master Coca Grower
  • Coca & Its Therapeutic Properties
  • Proper Cultivation Techniques
  • Harvesting For Maximum Purity & Potency
  • Preparation of the Coca Leaves
  • Coca Leaf – A Better Medicine
  • Natural Medicinal Preparations Of Coca Leaf
  • Your Keys To This Ancient Knowledge

Back to Greenhouses

In another post  I discussed the historical evidence, mostly from the 1800’s, of vigorous efforts to introduce of Coca plantings worldwide, and took note of a number of places where Coca was grown as part of a botanical garden or conservatory display of Andean plant life.

A hundred and fifty years ago Coca was grown in almost every public Botanical Garden facility in the world and in quite a few private indoor gardens as well.

Some of the more famous gardens with notable stands of Coca plants (and accompanying displays of how Coca was used by those quaint Andean Indians) include; the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, London; the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Royal Botanic Garden at Sydney, the Gardens at Versailles, and the Jardim Botanico at Rio de Janeiro.

Another beautiful example of an indoor Coca garden was the one created by Angelo Mariani at his company’s headquarters in France.

CocaGraphic21xIf you want to learn more about the fabulous Angelo Mariani and his empire of Coca wines, tonics and medicines (and if you can read French) you’ll enjoy exploring the archives of this blog:

https://angelomariani.wordpress.com/

So, all these highly successful indoor Coca plant gardens showed that a modest level of Coca plant production is quite feasible and, once the gardens are well-established, they can be self-sustaining over decades. That makes it pretty easy to see that Coca plants can be successfully grown using modern indoor technologies.

Of course the major issue with growing Coca plants indoors is that if you are growing them to produce Cocaine then you are going to have to have a shitload of indoor space and it would probably not be anywhere near profitable even if it were to be legal. This means that high-margin markets would have to be found for the whole natural Coca leaf itself, and followers of this blog know that I see many ways that this can be a viable natural medicine business, as it already is in Peru and Bolivia.

But … now let’s mention the single greatest challenge to indoor Coca growing anywhere outside of Peru, Bolivia and Colombia – and possibly a few other places that remain nameless.

You can grow Coca plants two ways – from seeds or cuttings. The biggest problem with growing from seed anywhere outside of the immediate area where the seed is harvested is that Coca seeds have a very short natural “shelf life”. The seed is protected by an outer protective fruit which begins decaying rapidly, and that renders the seed inside infertile.

However, growers around the world seem to be getting good seed from Indonesia – probably from somebody who has lifted a few Coca plants from the vicinity of one of the old Belgian Coca plantations. Good work!

As far as I can tell nobody has been successful at removing or slowing the decay (anyone used nitrogen?) of the fruity shell or otherwise making Coca seed viable beyond 2-3 weeks, although a simple, slow air-drying process out of the direct sun seems to have worked very well for old-time growers. (This is described in detail in

 

Greenhouse Coca from Java seeds (Mateo)

the Coca Handbook). So even a very modest-scale grower in, for example, the Western US, would have to have a very dependable source of at least several dozen viable seeds from the Andes to get started – no small task, to be sure. Any internet source would have to be carefully evaluated – there is a good chance that it might be either a con or a sting.

The other option for growers is cuttings, which work great according to all the historical accounts. Traditional Coca growers use this technique when they expect to plant only a few crops of Coca in a patch, because Coca plants grown from cuttings are sterile. (Again – all covered in the Coca Handbook.) Coca growers who plant from cuttings simply take a cutting with leaf bud activity and plant it in the shade by sticking it into a prepared soil bed. Nothing fancy – just good moist soil shaded from direct sun. And it’s easy to get growing plants from cuttings – Coca growers using this technique reportedly have a 75% or greater success rate.

Getting viable cuttings anywhere outside of Peru/Bolivia is also a major obstacle facing anyone thinking of growing a Coca garden because cuttings don’t travel well if they dry out, and ideally they go directly from being cut to the rooting medium anyway. Of course a country like Colombia could decide to get smart, but they are far too dependent on – you might even say addicted to – US “AID”.

 

cocaleavesThe other side to this problem is that as just mentioned plants from cuttings are sterile (no seeds) so the grower will have to get fresh cuttings annually or keep cloning existing plants – which will lead to genetic exhaustion pretty quickly. That means, importantly, that leaf production will fall and ultimately the plants will die off.

So growing a few dozen Coca plants would be no small operation even if Coca plants were suddenly legal. Obtaining high quality seed or cuttings from their source in the Andes to get a planting started would still be a challenge, but one that I’ll bet will get solved PDQ the moment it becomes clear that Coca can be grown in the first US state to allow it.

So who is it going to be? My bet is on Washington, Oregon or Colorado. But there are some mighty fine Coca growing environments in New Mexico, California and Arizona too. 

So, I’ve introduced you to the Coca Cultivators Handbook above. If you are interested in more than a growers guide, and if you want to explore every aspect of long-lost Coca traditions, cultivation, uses and rituals, then you might want to explore the only e-book that brings Coca history all together in one place.

 

                              Beautiful!

This massive book would be 750 pages long if if it was printed. It contains 5 complete full-text, digitized, hyperlinked books from the distant past detailing every aspect of Coca use, preparation and cultivation. I know that’s overkill, but if you’re a Coca history fanatic like me then overkill is OK.

Also, if you enjoy doing your own research in original texts, I’ve converted each book’s bibliography into searchable hyperlinked references, allowing you to explore all the collateral documents used by the original authors that are now hidden away in digital archives around the world. 

You get all 5 long-lost books full of long-lost insights & practical experience, all in one fully searchable library of incredible Coca knowledge.

“History of Coca”, Dr. Golden Mortimer, 1901

“A New Form Of Nervous Disease: An Essay On Erythroxylon Coca”, Dr. William Searles, 1884

“Erythroxylon Coca: A Treatise On Brain Exhaustion”, Dr. William Tibbles, 1877

“Coca Erythroxylon: Its Uses In Treatment of Disease”, Angelo Mariani 1885

“Coca – Its Therapeutic Applications”, Angelo Mariani, 1890

Plus a groundbreaking English translation of the detailed inside story on Andean Coca

“Drug Wars & Coca Leaf In Brazil”, Ivan Barreto 2014

Click the image to read the first chapter on Amazon.