Why might molasses be good for the garden?
Molasses is a simple sugar in syrup form, derived from the process of refining sugarcane.
It is believed to benefit the garden because microbes and bacteria will consume the sugar (carbohydrates) and then release organic matter back into the soil.
Where do I find molasses?
Molasses is not frequently used at my home. I usually have a bottle in the back of a cupboard, leftover from making gingerbread cookies. It takes a long time (years maybe) for molasses to go bad. I read if you store it in the refrigerator, you can extend its shelf life considerably.
If the smell of your molasses is fermented or bothersome, you can recycle it in the garden. Just don’t dump it straight onto your soil.
What is the best type of molasses to use?
All types of molasses contain nutrients and sugars that could serve as a soil amendment ingredient or microbe stimulator. After lots of research I recommend unsulfured blackstrap molasses because it is not exposed to chemical sulfur dioxide during processing. It also is believed to contain higher amount of nutrients than the other varieties. Organic molasses is fine because it won’t have synthetic preservatives but will probably be less concentrated than blackstrap because lower temperatures are used during processing.
How do I use molasses in the garden?
Add 1-3 tablespoons of molasses for every gallon of water used. It does not need to be an exact measurement. However, do not over apply.
Combine molasses with…
Alfalfa and molasses work well together. Add 1-3 tablespoons of molasses for every gallon of water called for in the Alfalfa Recipes. Molasses is a carbon-rich material (a “brown” compost ingredient), and therefore you should balance the carbon with nitrogen-rich materials such as alfalfa or fish. See the list of brown and green composting materials in the Extras Section for more ideas.
Try adding 1-3 tablespoons of molasses to each gallon of compost tea made from worm castings.
Molasses Quick Tips
- I rarely use molasses in my liquid concoctions because I’m not convinced it makes much of a difference and there have been studies that show it might increase bad bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella, especially in fertilizer teas left for weeks, aerated or not.
Unsulfured molasses is minimally processed from mature sugarcane that has been allowed to ripen in the field. Sulfured molasses is processed from green sugarcane. It is exposed to sulfur dioxide fumes to preserve it until it’s processed. The chemical sulfur used to treat the sugarcane is not the same as he naturally occurring sulfur nutrient. Blackstrap molasses is boiled three times (processed the most) and contains naturally occurring micronutrients including sulfur; and higher amounts of iron and calcium than the other varieties. Blackstrap is used as a nutritional supplement for humans and as an additive in animal feed.