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 Instructions For Planting Cotton Seeds

Planting Instruction for inside Planting Instruction for Outside
Check out this Planting Cotton Cartoon  >>> Watch Cotton Grow

Inside Planting
You will need:

Cotton planting seed*
Potting soil
Container (½ gal. Milk carton or similar container)
Planting cotton seed

  1. Start in a room at plus 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Pre-moisten potting soil and mix with local soil (50% soil and 50% potting soil).
  3. Cut off the top of container, rinse clean, and cut drain holes in its bottom.
  4. Fill the container with the moist potting mixture to 2 inches from the top.
  5. Place 3-4 seeds on the soil and firmly cover seeds with 1 inch of moist potting mixture.
  6. Place in sunlight and rotate the container a quarter turn each day.
  7. Check moisture daily and add ½-1 cup of water whenever the top inch of soil is dry.
  8. Seedlings will emerge in 7-10 days.
  9. Once the plants have emerged gradually increase amount of water until the soil is thoroughly moistened for several inches below the surface. To maintain adequate moisture to the roots water approximately every 7-10 days.

Note: The above planting method will not guarantee the growth of a cotton plant to harvest. In order to grow cotton plants to maturity:

  • plant the seeds in a container that is 30-36 inches deep
  • provide open sunlight 4-5 hours each day
  • continue with step #4-9 above. Cotton is a drought tolerant plant, do not over water.

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Outside Planting
You will need:

Cotton planting seed*
Prepared outside flower bed or garden area
Compost or humus
Garden tools (rack, shovel, weed hoe)
Lawn sprinkler and garden or soaker hose

  1. When tillable, work the soil to 1-2 inches deep to eliminate weeds.
  2. One inch of compost or humus may be incorporated into the soil. This supplement is a source of nitrogen, potassium and trace minerals needed to produce a strong plant.
  3. Create rows and furrows by dragging a garden hoe in a straight line the length and width of the garden.
  4. From the center of each row measure 30 inches, with a furrow as deep as the row in high.
  5. Pre-irrigate or moisten the soil to establish deep soil moisture.
  6. Check the soil temperature, using a soil thermometer. Soil should be 58-60 degree at 6 inches deep for three consecutive days at 8 AM in the spring (after all threat of frost has passed).
  7. Plant seeds in moist soil, in groups of three seeds, 1 inch deep and 4 inches apart.
  8. Firm soil around the seeds and leave 1 inch of loose fine dirt above the seeds.
  9. Allow 15 days for emergence.
  10. No additional water should be necessary.
  11. The first irrigation should begin 4-5 weeks after emergence.
  12. Continue to deliver water to the small plants through the summer months. In hot, dry climates this requires irrigation every 8-16 days.
  13. Once the plants no longer receive water (16-18 weeks from planting) they will naturally begin to dry and shed their leaves, and the bolls will split open allowing the fiber to dry.
  14. The cotton is ready for harvest when all of the bolls have cracked open and the cotton is a ball of fluff.

On a commercial level of cotton production, pests are difficult to control. Though not practical commercially, you may try the following methods to discourage pests (insects & animal) from your cotton plants:

  • Plant a fence around your cotton of basil to repel worms and flies; onions, garlic, anise and coriander for aphid; mint, sage, dill and thyme to protect from moths.
  • Paint a board bright yellow (school bus yellow). Then coat the surface with a sticky substance such as mineral oil or car oil. Place the board next to a cotton plant. Every few days wipe off the layer of insects adhered to it.
  • Toads can eat over 100 insects a day. To keep toads happy build a toad house from a clay flowerpot half buried on its side and provide a pond from a buried pie plate full of water.
  • The more birds you have in the area of your plants the fewer insects you will have to deal with. To attract birds: a) erect “bird hotels” b) scatter cracked corn or sunflower seeds c) provide birdbaths and bird feeders for a steady source of water and food.
  • Later in the growing season, when insect pests become a larger problem wash the entire plant off with a solution of 2 tablespoons of mild detergent and 1 gallon of water to control aphid, spider mite and whiteflies. Crushed garlic, red pepper and ground dead bugs may be added to the water. Commercial plant soaps are also good alternatives.

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