Growing Cotton

To plant my cotton I laid down black plastic and cut holes just large enough to plant three fuzzy seeds per hill. I planted 12 hills about 12" apart in a zig zag pattern. I thinned to two plants if all three germinated, which in a few cases happened. I tried to transplant those thinnings, but they do not transplant well, and only one made it. The plant in the picture is 2.5 months old and has a very sturdy stem. However I miscalculated the stability of my soil, which was plain ol' desert amended 50/50 with angora rabbit manure. As the manure broke down it created space for the plants to begin to tilt. With all the weight of the bolls, all of the plants were eventually leaning significantly, with one lying down completely, but, they still grew and they produced boll after boll. The black plastic kept all the weeds at bay, as well disuaded the chickens from scratching when they were under the plants. (Sierra Vista, July 2022)

(Sierra Vista, July 7 2022)

Look at the growth in just a week. These cotton babies can grow! (Sierra Vista, July 16 2022)

A little square, on its way to being cotton. (Sierra Vista, July 2022)

Cotton flowers are so perfect and beautiful. This flower is waiting for a pollinator. (Sierra Vista, Aug 2022)

A pollinated cotton flower. (Sierra Vista, July 2022)

A cotton flower awaiting pollination. (Sierra Vista, July 2022)

A pollinated flower, and some ripening bolls in this lovely picture of growing cotton. (Sierra Vista, July 2022)

Bountiful Bolls (Sierra Vista, Aug 2022)

Boll Beauty (Sierra Vista, Aug 2022)

Cotton haul for the day. Every few days I could pick two or more quart bags of cotton from my 12 plants. (Sierra Vista, Sep 16 2022)

My chickens love the cotton. In the warm summer days they love to rest in it's shade, and they are surprisingly friendly to the bolls, and the one or two bolls they do peck at I give to them, as payment for all the bug and pest patrol they did during the growing season. These plants have gone through two frosts and are beginning to end their life cycle. The plants will continue to flower and boll right up to a hard frost, of at least 4 hours. After that you will see a drastic change and the leaves will begin to wilt and the plant will no longer flower, however the unopened bolls, depending on their maturity at the frost/freeze will continue to mature, and many will open. (Sierra Vista, Sep 2022)

Click for more information on my cotton and angora workshops.

Julie Drogsvold and Joan Ruane (l-r), (Tucson, Nov 2022)

Spinning Cotton (Tucson, Nov 2022)