Posts Tagged ‘cotton plants’


Flax – June 3, 2013

March 13:


Cotton Seedlings – June 3, 2013

Cotton seeds planted: Mississippi Brown, Erlene’s Green and Sea Island (white).

After a few days of inactivity, I added a heat mat under half of the pots, and by March 22- 23 there were 3 plants in the heated pots.

The others are starting to sprout too, so it may be chance, but I’ll use the heat mat from the start next time.

April 13:

A month later, and the second leaves are developing on the first cotton seedlings. I’m careful to water them from the bottom now, and once they are a little bigger, I’ll find them some bigger pots in which to spend the summer.

Also coming along are Japanese Indigo and more Madder seedlings, as well as various tomatoes from seed saved from last year’s crop. Last thing planted was Calendula, which haven’t appeared yet.

May 24:

Flax are now planted in the allotment garden – I used about 1 1/4 pounds on an area 30 x 15 feet. It doesn’t look that thickly sown.

June 4:

Flax is doing well in the cold, wet weather we’ve had lately. Cotton is still small and could use more sun and warmth. I’ve just moved the pots into the screen porch where the sun exposure is better. Woad is now sown in the allotment plot and Madder transplanted into the ground. Calendula and j. Indigo are next to go outside.


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It’s been a good year for the vegetable garden, which prompted me to try to extend the season a little longer. A second planting of edible pod peas in August has produced a nice crop and there are still a few blossoms on the vines, even though we’ve had many below-freezing nights already.

Pea blossoms



As the night temperatures dropped below freezing, I covered a small raised bed in which a second crop of cilantro and some garlic has been planted. The smaller the plants, the better the flavour it seems with cilantro, so it’s a good candidate for periodic replanting. The colder it gets, the more layers I’ve added so the bed now has two layers of crop cover material and a clear plastic shower curtain on top supported by 3′ high plastic hoops. The air temperature inside varies between -2 C and 8 C and the cilantro and garlic both seem to be fine with this temperature range. The days are short and often overcast, so the rate of growth is not what it is in the summer, but I still have hopes of a little more fresh cilantro this Fall.

Cilantro and Garlic in covered bed

It hasn’t been a good year for the cotton plants, but they are now inside again, and there are some buds and the occasional blossom and boll, but these are much later then they were last year, when blossoms were more numerous and fewer buds were dropped. I’ll try for fewer plants in deeper pots next season to see if that helps. In the meantime, I’ll try to overwinter the strongest plants from this season and see if they eventually produce some fibre.

The dye plants are looking healthy, and I’m tempted to harvest another cutting of Woad before the leaves are covered with snow for the winter.

Woad leaves in November

Madder – first season plant

Weld – first season plants

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cotton seedlings with watering cords

I’ve found that cotton seedlings need just the right amount of water – too much or too little and they go limp. They also seem to prefer to be watered from the bottom, and develop nice strong, deep roots even before the leaves are abundant.

This is fine if you have them in pots with saucers that you can pour into, but I still have most of my seedlings in smallish pots grouped on the lid of a rubber storage bin.

The best solution I’ve found is to cut a piece of thick cotton cord (the kind found in fabric shops) and push one end down to the bottom of the pot and put the other end into a bowl of water. Capillary action will draw moisture up the cord and into the soil in the pot. It’s also helpful if you will be away and unable to water the pots for a few days. The water reservoir can handle a number of pots.

I would love to start hardening them off, but the weather stays stubbornly cold and wet, so they’re going to be inside with me for a while yet.

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2011 Cotton Crop - Upland, Green & Brown

Winter has now set in with crisp, cold nights and mostly drab days. A good time to tackle some tasks that can be completed indoors.

I finally got around to picking the cotton bolls from the dried-up plants in the back porch, and now I’ve started to remove the seeds. There were a total of six plants that produced mature bolls (one plant had small bolls forming when the cold weather stopped it’s growth).

The Upland cotton (white bolls and fibre in front) was the most prolific, while there were only one or two bolls from the green and brown plants.

Upland Cotton Seeds

I was surprised at how much fibre each Upland boll contains, and quite pleased at the number of seeds that I have for this year’s crop.

I’ve ordered a takli spindle from Joan Ruane at Cotton Spinning so that I can spin up my little crop into yarn.

In the meantime, I’ll be picking out the rest of the seeds and planning for a slightly bigger cotton plot this Spring.

Last year I started the seeds on Feb 23, and I think I’ll try for a little earlier start this year. I’ll also plan to transplant some into a bed that I can protect with a row cover to provide additional heat and to prolong the growing season further into the Fall.

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Japanese Indigo Blossoms

I underestimated the amount of dyestuff that’s needed for natural dyeing, but fortunately, the amount of fibre that my garden produced this year is also small.

This means that next year I will devote more garden space to both fibre plants (flax and cotton) and to dye plants. I’ve already lined up some additional woad seeds from Sarah Dalziel at Woad.ca, and hope that the blooms on my Japanese Indigo plants will produce seeds before our first frost.

My own woad was useful for dyeing, but will not produce seeds until its second year.

On the fibre front, there are at least ten cotton bolls ready to burst on the potted cotton plants in the porch. Here are the first two.

Cotton Bolls Opening

I’ll devote some time this winter to further experiments with retting and processing last year’s flax fibre and to spinning and dyeing the cotton – of course, all seeds will be saved for next year!

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