Late this last spring, I woke up one day a decided I wanted to grow cotton in my backyard. This is a bit ridiculous for a few reasons:
- I have little to no experience spinning cotton
- I have absolutely no experience spinning from a boll (cotton as it comes off of the plant)
- I have a stash of beautiful, combed wools, alpacas, and blends ready to spin right now.
But I woke up one day, and decided I wanted to try it. So I am.
These are the seeds I purchased from MRC Seeds. I ordered an Egyptian variety, which has one of the longest staple lengths listed on their website so it should be the easiest to spin. I also ordered a brown variety and a green variety, because even though I’m fascinated by how our ancestors made yarn, and I attempt to recreate those histories in many ways, I’m also incredibly lazy at times. If the cotton is already brown or green, there’s no need to dye it, and I think that’s awesome.
Cotton plants can be a little temperamental, I found out. You have to wait to plant them until after the last frost of the season, and the flowers need to turn to bolls before the first frost of the next cold season. This is why Kansas is not a historically good state to grow cotton in. But with our first frosts coming later and later each year, I thought my plants would have time make it to bolls even with my late spring planting.
So I staked my claim in our little backyard garden. My dad helped weed it out (he knows he’ll get something out of this, I’m sure!) and I got to work digging little trenches for my seeds to get started in. I made three, one for each variety of cotton. I placed seeds about 15″ apart. That’s twice as close as recommended per seed packet instruction, but I had limited space, so we’ll just have to see how that goes. Afterwards, I covered them with potting soil, watered, and waited.
Lo and behold, I have cotton plants! Less than half as many as I had seeds, but that’s better than none! None of the brown seeds made it to plants. I had four green and nine (NINE!) Egyptian, then we had a little incident with some weed killer so now I’m down to about three and six, respectively. I’m a little concerned that I haven’t had any blooms yet, as the blooms turn to the bolls that produce the cotton I can spin, and that all has to all be done before our first frost. Harvest will happen in the fall, and I’ll be sure to post about that, as well as however I’ll be spinning that harvest. So stay tuned!