I love the looks I get when I tell people to put molasses on their soil as an amendment. It ranges from that “Are you serious” look to the occasional “You’re an idiot” comment. I then patiently explain all the benefits.
If you haven’t had the benefit of that patient explanation, then this is for you. If you need a refresher, it will work for that as well.
What is it?
Molasses is a sweet syrup made from the juices squeezed from sorghum. It is rich in sulfur, potash and trace minerals. It is a carbohydrate-rich natural source of energy for the microbiome life in your soil and your compost pile. An added benefit is that it will send fire ants on their way. They hate the source. As a soil amendment, it is a carbon source to feed the microbes in your soil and encouraging a rich and diverse ecology.
The best choice is the molasses called Black Strap. It may be a bit more expensive and may be harder to find, but it is well worth the investment.
If fire ants are your problem, a mixture of molasses and orange oil in a compost tea will kill fire ants as well as many other insect pests. Molasses by itself will repel fire ants.
Molasses for horticulture use can be had in two varieties; dry and liquid. Dry molasses is not dried powder molasses. It is a grain residue such as soy meal that is treated with liquid molasses and then dried. When spread like a dry fertilizer it repels fire ants as well as stimulating microbe growth in the soil. Apart from spreading it dry on your soil, you can mix molasses into your compost tea to make a rich foliar spray or as a drench application.
Liquid molasses is familiar to most of us. It is just made for biscuits and sausage. On the other hand, it is a great amendment for soil. Mixed with water, it can be sprayed easily.
Liquid molasses should be mixed at a rate of 1 – 2 ounces per gallon of water. Use it as a soil treatment when building new beds or regenerating old compact sterile soil. It can be applied as a foliar spray at the same rate to encourage plant growth. Do not attempt to mix dry molasses and water and then spray it. It just won’t work and may ruin your sprayer.
Dry molasses should be applied at 10 – 20 lbs per 1000 square feet. Broadcast it using a hand broadcast spreader.
Links and Resources
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