Milk and Molasses, Miracles for Your Garden
Part 2 of 2
Molasses Feeds Micro-Organisms
Molasses is a viscous by-product of the processing of sugar cane or sugar beets into sugar. Sulfured molasses is made from young sugar cane. Sulfur dioxide, which acts as a preservative, is added during the sugar extraction process. Unsulfured molasses is made from mature sugar cane, which does not require such treatment.
There are three grades of molasses: mild or Barbados, also known as first molasses; dark, or second molasses; and blackstrap. The third boiling of the sugar syrup makes blackstrap molasses. The majority of sucrose from the original juice has been crystallized and removed. The calorie content of blackstrap molasses is still mostly from the small remaining sugar content. However, unlike refined sugars, it contains trace amounts of vitamins and significant amounts of several minerals.
Blackstrap molasses is a source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron; one tablespoon provides up to 20% of the USDA daily value of each of those nutrients. Not only do these nutrients do a body good, but they are also highly valuable in building up the soil!
Molasses is a very valuable addition to the compost pile, as well as to the garden itself. Unsulfured blackstrap is the preferred variety, due to the mineral content, but any of the un-sulfured ones will do fine. The benefits beyond the minerals are the natural sugar content that will feed the microorganisms in the compost or soil of the garden.
More Gardening Recipes
Use 1/4 to 1/2 cup of molasses to a gallon of water and spray onto the compost pile or garden, or add to the drip system for the garden. For soils that are poor, stressed, or need help use 1 cup, while those that just need a little “snack” use 1/4 cup. The readily available sugar content will skyrocket microbial activity. Apply once or twice a month, but be careful not to overdo it – don’t train the microbes to expect you to feed them, only give them a boost when they need it!
Blackstrap molasses is also commonly used in horticulture as a flower blooming and fruiting enhancer, particularly in organic hydroponics. Use the before mentioned mixture in the drip system, or sprayed alongside the roots of fruiting vegetables as they start to flower to increase their flowering and fruiting.
Add 3 Tablespoons of molasses to the milk spray solution mentioned above and use to feed plants during the height of the growing season. Hungry, high production plants such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, and such will really benefit from the consistent feedings, giving you more production that is more flavorful.
Sweet Weed Control
A fringe benefit of spraying the milk and molasses mixture on the garden is a biologically friendly weed population control. Many broadleaf weeds thrive on diets high in available nitrates and potassium diets, common with commercial fertilizers. Phosphorus is “tied up” or bound with calcium in the soil and needs biological activity to release it. The calcium in milk helps to compensate for what is unavailable in the soil, while the increased biological activity from both the milk and molasses releases unavailable phosphorus and creates soil conditions that are unfavorable to the germination of weed seeds.
The costs of applying the milk and molasses mixture are very minimal, but when compared to any other fertilizer and insecticide regimen – even those that are organic in nature – milk and molasses have no comparison.
For instance, one acre has 43,560 square feet, and a gallon is 128 oz. Doing the math, we find that 3 gallons per acre works out to be 0.003 of an ounce per square foot! Assuming a gallon of organic milk costs $8.00, that works out to 0.00055 dollars per square foot, or 0.055 cents per square foot! Yes, that is right – when rounded up it is 6 tenths of a penny per square foot of garden. So if you had a large garden – say a 1,000 square feet – one application of the milk would cost a whopping $0.55 (55 cents), plus the expense of 2 – 3 tablespoons of molasses. What other biologically friendly soil fertility improvements would cost this amount?
Here’s the proof on the math:
- 1 acre = 43,560 square feet (ft²)
- 1 gallon = 128 ounces
- 128 oz/43,560 ft² = 0.002938 oz/ft²
- 3 gallons x $8 = $24
- $24/43,560 ft² = $0.00055/ft² multiply this by 100 for cents = 0.055 cents/ft²
Who knew that something as simple as milk and molasses had such powerfully positive, far-reaching effects? Especially without any of the negative effects of petro-chemical fertilizers?
An excerpt from “Milk and Molasses Miracles for Your Garden“, Terroir Seeds.