How to Grow Cotton
I really want to teach my kids where things come from. I wanted to show them how their clothes are made from natural resources like cotton. This year we are growing our own cotton. We harvested, combed, and spun a little of it so the kids can see their clothes are made from it. You can grow cotton too!
When I was a teenager my mom was into textiles and spinning. She grew cotton to use for spinning her own cotton yarn. We helped her grow it and harvest it and comb it. It was really fun to see how it went from plant to fabric. I loved the idea of doing this with my kids.
Click here to see how to garden with kids.
The cotton plant looks kind of like an okra plant. It loves the heat, so you plant it when you would plant okra. Here that is the end of April or early may. The plant is gorgeous and has the most amazing flowers. They are beautiful.
If you want to see a month by month garden guide for growing, click here.
How to grow cotton
Teaching kids where fiber comes from
How long does it take to grow cotton
It takes most of the summer to grow and ripens in the fall. The pods are hard and woody, so when you pick it, be careful not to cut your fingers. It’s killer on the cuticles. Enough so that I remember it from so long ago when I was a teen.
How to harvest cotton and cotton seeds
When the pods are ripe, they pop open like a big kernel of popcorn, you take the cotton balls out and collect them. Each one is full of big hard seeds that are impossible to remove. That’s why you take them to the cotton gin. It removes the seeds for you. We are going to send our cotton to OSU to have it ginned. Then we will spin it.
This is a super fun project to do with kids of any age. I am still enamored with it at my age. I hope you would consider growing some textiles to see how they grow. It’s an amazing process. Make sure it’s legal in your area before growing cotton. There are some places that don’t allow it.
Where to buy cotton seeds
Click here to get your cotton seeds so you can grow your own.
Once you have your cotton picked, you can comb or card it with cotton combs. I found these antique ones on etsy, but you can buy them brand new also. You cannot remove the seeds from the cotton by hand, the combs lengthen the fiber and remove the seeds.
Spinning cotton into yarn
The cotton can then be spun on a spinning wheel, with a drop spindle or by hand. I spun a small amount to show the kids how it could be made into yarn. They tried to spin it, but it’s pretty hard to do. A great learning experience though.
Growing cotton in your backyard
Teaching kids where their clothing comes from is an amazing experience. I was even amazed myself!
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