Posts tagged ‘organic garden fertilizer’

April 2, 2013

Blackstrap Molasses Fertilizer


Blackstrap Molasses. Strong, dark, sticky. Rich, pungent, earthy. When I think of molasses I usually think Gingersnap Cookies. Oh, how I love gingersnap cookies. Just the thought of them makes my mouth water. Until about a month ago I never really gave it much thought as to what molasses was made of, it was just molasses.

Blame it on the long Minnesota winters, but come late January, early February, after the holidays have passed, I get bored, antsy. I need to do something. And by “do” I mean grow something. You see, by this point the ground outside has been a frozen arctic tundra for 4 or 5 months, spring doesn’t come for another 3 or 4 and it’s too early to start seeds for the garden. So usually about this time of year I set my sights on my “house plants” of which I have about a hundred. And by house plants, I mean plants that I am currently growing in the house, not necessarily house plants as you may normally find.

I love plants. Every kind of plant. I have no prejudices against them unless they are mean to me (burn or poison me), taste bad or don’t mind their manners (invasive), otherwise I can usually find something cool about pretty much every one of them. To give you an idea, my sunroom currently contains: hops, jasmine, bay, spearmint, asparagus, sedum, a lemon tree, a dead lemon tree, a pomegranate, a dead palm, a juvenile avocado tree, 3 or 4 orchids, a really cool pink flowered thing, mother of thousands, begonia, asparagus fern, passion-flower, a couple of pathos, a half-dozen or so Christmas cacti, and a bunch more I don’t recall at the moment.

With all of these plants you would think I would cruise through fertilizer, but you see, that’s the thing I don’t particularly care for chemical fertilizer, so I usually don’t feed them, or I haven’t anyway, until last month. Then when my sights got set on my house plants, I had this nagging in the back of my mind that I need to do something to feed them. That’s when I remembered a conversation with my friend Organic Bob, a soil guru, mentioning that in his organic lawn care business they use compost tea on lawns then “feed” them with molasses. So I wondered, could I use the same stuff for houseplants? I did a little research and found that in addition using it on lawns and organic veggie gardens, sure enough, you can use molasses on houseplants as well. Although it’s best when used in conjunction with another fertilizer, such as compost tea, alfalfa tea or fish emulsion, it can be used alone too.

Molasses is the byproduct from the sugar-making process and is very high in nutrients. Just to give you an idea of how nutrient rich it really is… It contains iron, magnesium phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, cooper, manganese, selenium, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid and choline. And, no, I cannot pronounce all of them and I can’t remember them off the top of my head, but the key thing to remember is that molasses is very nutrient rich.

But it gets better: there are different densities of nutrients due to how molasses is made. To get that info, we need to delve into the sugar-making process a little. The sugar-making process is a three-step process using cane juice from sugar canes or beet juice from sugar beets. Basically, they take the cane juice or beet juice and cook it down until sugar crystals form. The sugar crystals are removed, leaving behind all of the nutrients from the sugar cane or sugar beet in the byproduct syrup called molasses. This syrup is boiled a second time, again removing the sugar crystals and leaving behind the nutrients in the syrup. After the third boil what is left is very dark syrup dense with nutrients, known as Blackstrap Molasses.

Unsulphered Blackstrap Molasses is the best choice for use as a fertilizer, partly because it has the most nutrients of the various molasses and partly because it is unsulphered. Unsulphered means it was not processed with sulfur dioxide to keep the sugar cane or sugar beet “fresh” until processed into sugar. But to keep it fresh means it kills microbes and we want to keep microbes because we want to feed the soil. So what we are looking for is microbe and nutrient rich molasses or Unsulphered Blackstrap Molasses.

So I suppose you are wondering if it works. Well, I don’t believe in reading books or info on the internet and just regurgitating information without actually trying things myself to see how it works, so I did just that. At first I experimented with just a few plants. Within days of giving them an initial feeding they put on new growth, started putting out new buds and started perking up. I’ve now fed nearly all of my plants with molasses and while I realize the longer days and stronger sun are helping things along, every one of them has put on new growth, many have blossoms (my jasmine plant is in full bloom) and their overall health has improved, so I would have to say yes, it works.

I realize it’s not fair to talk about it without sharing the info, so here’s the recipe I used:

Blackstrap Molasses Fertilizer

2 teaspoons unsulphered blackstrap molasses

1 liter water

Mix well and feed plants once a month. That’s it!

If you are interested in recipes combining molasses with some other fertilizers these are good sources to check out:

Fertilizing Houseplants with Blackstrap Molasses

Molasses and Alfalfa Tea Mixture

So there you have it. I guess molasses isn’t just for gingersnap cookies anymore! I can’t wait to try it on my seedlings and in my garden this summer.