Thought I’d give my loyal readers an update on this year’s cotton crop. I started the seeds in peat pots in the spring and transplanted the seedlings to the flower bed as they sprouted. All was going well until I noticed that several seedlings were cut off right at the ground level. Since I couldn’t determine the culprit, I decided to plant the rest of the seedlings in flower pots. The pots share the deck with our planters of hot peppers. My husband waters them everyday and gives them a little taste of Miracle Grow so the plants started growing like Jack’s beanstalk. The first bloom opened on July 1st. It takes 60 days for the boll to mature and open so I knew I’d be picking cotton by September 1st.
All was going well until the June bugs discoverd the plants and decided to make the leaves look like Swiss cheese.
I sprayed the plants with insecticidal soap and it knocked the June bugs off but didn’t keep them away. Still the plants seemed to be doing OK so I didn’t worry too much. Then I noticed that the new leaves on several plants looked strange. They didn’t open up like usual and looked rather spiky. Was I growing some new mutant stain of cotton? Did the insecticidal soap cause this anomaly? Did the plants evolve to protect themselves from the June bugs?
Ironically, the three cotton plants that managed to fend off the mysterious pest that felled the other seedlings were looking great. The June bugs completly ignored them and they were no more than 10 feet away, planted in front of a row of Rose-of-Sharon bushes. Bushes that the June bugs normally cover!
Rose-of-Sharon and cotton are both in the hibiscus family. Was this a case of “big brother” protecting “little brother?”
I guess these questions will remain unanswered until the cotton bolls open. I’ll keep you posted!