Cottonseed Meal


Cottonseed Meal


Cottonseed — a raw agricultural product once largely wasted — makes excellent fertilizer and mulch for vegetable plants. The same protein-rich, premium supplement the Virginia cattle industry has been using for years to feed cows can be applied to gardens or lawns, resulting in enhanced soil structure and increased soil fertility.

Cottonseed meal is made from ground cotton seeds. It is an organic, slow-release, premium fertilizer containing 6 to 7 percent nitrogen (N), 1 to 2 percent phosphorus (P), 1 percent potassium (K) and numerous minor elements. When incorporated into garden soil, cottonseed meal decomposes over a period of time, slowly releasing its nutrients and forming soil-improving humus.

When fertilizing your vegetable garden in the spring, apply 4 to 6 pounds of cottonseed meal per 100 square feet of growing area along with compost, greensand and rock phosphate. Till or spade the soil to a depth of 8 to 10 inches.

When the garden is established and the soil warms up, mulch around plants with a 1- to 2-inch layer of suitable organic material. About two to three weeks later, apply a top-dressing of cottonseed meal at the rate of 1½ to 2 pounds per 100 square feet. Lightly work the meal into the mulch and water thoroughly. Depending upon the crop and weather, additional applications of meal at the same rate may be needed periodically during the growing season.

You can also use cottonseed meal as earthworm food. If you have noticed fewer earthworms in your vegetable or flower garden in recent years, they may be slowly starving on a skimpy diet of leaves and plant debris. Dusting on some cottonseed meal just before a rain shower will provide essential nutrients to worms.

Cottonseed meal is also excellent for home lawns. To encourage strong turfgrass root development for the winter months, apply 3 to 4 pounds of cottonseed meal per 100 square feet of lawn in the fall.

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