Growing Naturally Green Cotton

Follow the experiments of two fiber artists as they grow a nearly forgotten cultivar of cotton.

| Winter 2019

arkansas-green-lint
Courtesy of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

As a weaver, I have plenty of reasons to attempt growing cotton in my small, urban backyard garden. So I teamed up with Caitlin Wilson, a fiber-spinning friend of mine, and hatched a plot to grow naturally colored green cotton. Because we’re fiber fans, growing our own colored cotton was an appealing challenge.

Such experiments never go smoothly at first, and ours was no exception. But regardless of the outcome, gardening trials always leave us with plenty of new information. And through our adventures, we learned a lot.

Cotton Cultivation

Cotton has been cultivated as a crop for centuries. Around 5000 B.C., civilizations in North, Central, and South America were growing cotton to make yarn and cloth. By 3000 B.C., several cotton species were growing in present-day Pakistan and India, as well as along the Nile River in Egypt. And by 800 A.D., cultivated cotton was grown in southern Europe. When Europeans moving to North America found cultivated native cottons, they adopted those species into their colonies.



wall-hanging
Ancient civilizations used naturally colored cottons to weave wall hangings. This hanging dates back to 1300 to 1470, and is thought to have hung in a palace in Chan Chan, the largest pre-Columbian-era city of South America. Photo by Met Museum

While we tend to think of cotton primarily as white, most cotton species come in several colors: green, brown, tan, rust, and a light-pink rust. Some cultures, such as the Paracas and Nazca civilizations in Peru, valued the color variations and used them to create intricately patterned cloth. Ancient Egyptians, on the other hand, appreciated white cotton and natural-colored linen, using both to create light garments suitable for desert living.






mother-audience

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

February 15-16, 2020
Belton, Texas

Join us in the Lone Star state to explore ways to save money and live efficiently. This two-day event includes hands-on workshops and a marketplace featuring the latest homesteading products.

LEARN MORE






Become a Preferred Subscriber and start enjoying the benefits today!

Fall in love with the flavor, versatility, and beauty of Heirloom Gardener

Heirloom GardenerDelight your taste buds, mind and eyes with beautiful photos and inspirational techniques on everything you need to know to grow, preserve and cook your own heirloom fruits and vegetables. You won’t want to miss the stories about plants passed down from generation to generation.

Don’t miss a single issue of Heirloom Gardener. Published by the editors of MOTHER EARTH NEWS, Heirloom Gardener provides decades of organic gardening experience from the most trusted voices in the field. Join today and save off the newsstand price! Get one year (4 issues) for only $24.95! (USA only)




Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube

click me