Originally, cotton was a tall perennial that lived for up to 10 years. However, it has been domesticated and is now a smaller annual plant, which makes it much easier to grow and harvest. It can be grown almost anywhere that has a warm summer.
Choose a spot in your garden that gets full sun. The size of the area needed depends on how much cotton you want to grow. Each plant must be spaced 4 inches apart, with about 8 inches between rows.
Add 1 inch of compost to the top of the soil. Mix the compost and the top inch of soil with a tiller until they appear to be thoroughly mixed.
Drag a hoe in a straight line across the width of your garden so it makes a trench 1 inch deep. Make all additional rows 8 inches apart. The hoe will push soil aside and make hills along the trenches. Do not flatten the hills as this soil will be used to cover the seeds.
Check the temperature of the soil at 8 a.m. every day. Stick a soil thermometer 6 inches deep into the soil for a more accurate reading of the ground's temperature. Once the soil is at least 58 degrees for three consecutive days, the cotton can be planted.
Water the soil so it is damp to the touch. The seeds need moisture to germinate.
Drop three seeds at the end of one of the trenches. Measure 4 inches down the trench and drop another three seeds. Repeat this until you reach the end of the trench. It is best to plant three seeds in each spot because some seeds may not germinate.
Cover the seeds with the soil from the hills along the trenches. Do not pack the soil down on top of the seeds because it can prevent the seeds from sprouting up through the surface.
Let the seeds sit for four weeks before you water the soil again. Then add enough water to dampen the soil every two weeks until the plants are 16 weeks old.
Wait for the bolls on the plant to crack open and reveal their cotton. This should occur after about 20 weeks.