The soil requirements for growing opium poppies are similar to those of many types of garden plants. In most cases only minor adjustments are needed in good gardening soil.
If you have to plant right away and don't have time to prepare the soil, sow the seeds and see what happens. They will usually grow well in soil that has previously been used to grow other types of plants successfully.
If you have the chance to prepare ahead of time, soil should be loose and well draining. Loose soil meaning it is fluffy and not compacted. Clay is a good example of compacted soil that is not good for growing opium poppies in.
With soil that is compacted, turn over the soil to a depth of 8-12 inches prior to growing. Straw, compost, or other similar materials can be added to the soil when it is being turned over, in order to reduce clumping.
Check the pH of the soil you are going to grow in with a soil pH meter or soil pH test kit. The pH should be somewhere in the neutral range of about 7 on the pH scale.
You can purchase a soil pH meter or test kit at a garden supply center for under $20. The meters can usually be used for years while the test kits last for a certain number of tests.
Some methods of lowering or raising soil pH work best by adding them when you are turning over the soil, so you should check the soil pH before turning it over.
To lower soil pH: If the pH is higher than 7.0, aluminum sulfate, calcium chloride, iron sulfate, peat moss, soil sulfur can be utilized to lower the pH of soil.
To raise soil pH: If the pH is lower than 7.0, small amounts of hardwood ashes, ground limestone (also raises calcium), dolomite limestone (also raises calcium and magnesium) can help raise the soil pH.
Different materials will take different amounts of time to lower or raise pH and they will work for varied periods of time. Things like decaying vegetation (leaves, etc) will change the pH of soil.
Adjusting pH may take weeks or months to accomplish. Do some research and make a choice accordingly, so you don't waste time and money.
Keep in mind that adjusting pH may alter the balance of nutrients available to plants. Too much or too little of one or more nutrients can be as bad as a pH imbalance.
Hydroponic Heroin: Grow Opium Poppies Without Soil
Out of print but worth getting if you can find it for a good price. Shows how to grow opium poppies with a hydroponic set up. From how to sprout the seeds and care for the plants to harvesting.
A short history of opium is presented with the risks of addiction, pain of quitting, obtaining materials, laws, dosages, overdose antidotes, more. Includes harvesting raw opium from poppies, and how to convert the opium to morphine or heroin.
The title makes it sound strictly like a history book, in addition this is a very good introduction to smoking opium that anyone who has access to opium, but isn't sure how to smoke it, should read.
Thorough instructions on how to prepare the opium for use and how to use an opium pipe for the purpose. Includes addiction, withdrawal and medical issues as well as cultural insights and a social history of opium.
Opium For The Masses
This is the updated 2009 version of this book. A fairly comprehensive introduction to opium, it takes you through the history, chemistry, use, cultivation, harvesting, storage, and other aspects of opium.
There is enough information about how to grow and harvest opium poppies for this to be used as a grow guide. For someone not interested in growing poppies, the book has good info on how to extract opioids from legally obtainable sources.
Opium For The Masses
A comprehensive resource that explores the opium poppy's origin, cultivation, distribution, chemistry, uses and abuses, from ancient civilizations through the present.
It covers plant and seed production, crop improvement, explores the chemical and pharmaceutical by-products of Papaver somniferum.
For professionals and students of pharmacy, botany, chemistry, medicine, pharmacology, or those with a serious interest in the subject.
Opium Poppy Garden
A good small book (less than 100 pages). Part one is a novel about the life of an opium grower. The second part of the book shows, using black and white photos and illustrations, how to cultivate and harvest the opium poppy outdoors with traditional tools that are easy to make and use.
Although less than 20 pages are about growing opium, it contains enough info to be used as a single introductory opium grow guide. If you grow poppies this book might be worth the price just for the page about how to harvest the opium capsule so it provides a maximum yield.
Opium Poppy Garden
For those with practical chemistry experience only. Sections include: thebaine extraction and purification, thebaine from dried seed capsules, oxycodone from thebaine, purifying oripavines, morphine extraction from opium.
Alkaloids from poppy straw and/or capsules, morphine from codeine, relatives of the opium poppy, opium products that occur in other plants, cultivation methods, opium harvesting, converting morphine to heroin, more.
Includes references, photos, graphs, charts; extraction, chemistry. By Otto Snow, 246 pages, 6 x 9 inches, illustrated in black and white, published 2001, out of print.
The Power Of The Poppy
Parts 1-3 of the book include: Part 1 - the history of opium, Part 2 - morphine, codeine, heroin, oxycodone, methadone, fentanyl, Part 3 - famous opium users.
Part 4 includes information about cultivation, poppy tea, pills, smoking, injection, addiction, getting clean. 320 pages, 6 x 9 inches, published in 2011.
The Power of the Poppy