Growing Cotton…

I tried three times to sow cotton in a little bed I had on the south side of my house.

Simon had given me some seeds and I’d soaked them overnight in water and sown them in my carefully prepared soil.

I planted a few rows of okra too, also from the mallow family, their pretty flowers grace these plants for a day or two before starting the process of yielding fruit.  Other close relatives you may have grown in your flowerbed are hollyhocks and hibiscus.

When the first seedlings began to sprout one of the men working on our new porch swept all the sawdust off the side of the patio into my new bed and smothered the seedlings.

“Wood is good for them,” Hubs said, “it will degrade and mulch.”

They died of goodness.

I asked Simon for a few more bolls of cotton and tried again,

“Make sure you clear the bed of sawdust,” he suggested.

I hand cleared and tilled the earth again, soaked the seeds and sowed neat rows.

This time ladders were placed in the bed to finish framing, painting and screening the porch and my seedlings were crushed and broken.

“Tell me when you’re finished with the work and I’ll try again,” I told Hubs patiently.

May came and went, June gentled her way into summer until finally, in the middle of July, I was given the go ahead.

The soil was quite dry by then and I’d heard that cotton needs water, more than grapevines apparently, so I diligently nurtured and watched for the first seedlings, kept the bed weeded and was finally rewarded by the emergence of fragile stems and bright green leaves.


Slowly they began to flower,


ar first pink, then white.

My son was right, the flowers are quite lovely,


and the beginnings of bolls appeared.

They are perfect.


“Wait until they begin to dry out and burst open,” Simon said, “that’s the best part and really cool to watch.”

I feel as though I’ve arrived as a Southerner!  Not quite the vast fields of cotton so reminiscent of the South’s heritage but a few healthy plants grown under my care.

A homesteader’s modest attempt at cotton growing.

“Swing low sweet chariot…”

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