This past summer we planted non-gmo, organic, Red Foliated Cotton, Gossypium hirsutum. In the Malvaceae family the flowers are hibiscus like and the leaves are very attractive flame red shape and color. Zilker Botanical Garden approved and provided the seeds. While not a food crop, it can be used to make cottonseed oil. We grew about enough to make a spooky, spider web halloween decoration.
Cotton is an annual plant that requires a long, warm growing season to mature properly in 120 days. It needs full sun. In zones 8–10 it can be sown directly after the last frost. Seed germinates in 7–21 days at 70°F. Plant 18–30 in. apart in rows 5 ft. apart. Plants start flowering in mid-summer. Bolls take a few more months to mature; warm late summer weather is necessary for a good crop. Plants grow to 5–6 ft. tall.
Spanish colonization and the enslavement of Africans created the mono-cropped cotton industry in Texas that not only paved the way for the civil war, but created the world's 'dirtiest' crop due to its heavy use of insecticides, the most hazardous pesticide to humans and health of all living things.
"Conventional cotton covers 2.5% of the world's cultivated land yet uses 16% of the world's insecticides, more than any other single major crop."
Source: Rodale Institute
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