THE MANY USES OF MOLASSES

I grew up eating molasses mixed with butter on toast or biscuits. My grandmother made “Egg Butter” by mixing molasses, egg, cinnamon, and butter in a skillet, cooking it until it was thick, and then serving it on a hot buttered biscuits. That was energy food for picking cotton all morning.

I have already written about putting agricultural grade molasses in diluted liquid concentrate (LMC) or compost tea to feed the microbes in the soil. I will connect this use to the problem I have with Root Knot Nematodes since I started gardening in the sugar sand here on the Texas coast in 2007.

I have tried several commercial products plus marigolds and compost to repel or reduce the nematodes with limited success. Root Knot Nematodes can severely damage tomatoes, okra, squash, and cucumbers. They also hinder the production of peppers, beans, and peas. Last year, friends in our gardening group used dried molasses in their raised beds with significant success in repelling or limiting the nematode damage to the roots of their vegetables. Research indicated that Root Knot Nematodes do their most damage during the flowering and ripening of fruit stages.
This spring I used dried molasses as I was preparing the soil for the okra seed. After I planted the seeds or plants of other vegetables, I drenched all the rows with diluted molasses at one cup heavy molasses to one gallon of rain water. I followed this with about 40 gallons of LMC with organic fertilizers added. I did this same molasses drench and LMC treatment when the plants were flowering. As the vegetables started to mature, I did the drench and LMC again. Of course, I was also using Spray-N-Grow and Bill’s Professional Fertilizer every two weeks.
The results have been amazing since I am depending on drip irrigation during our semi drought conditions. The bush beans were deep green, 2 foot high before vining, and heavy with blooms and beans. Some of the deep green leafy tomatoes grew to over 6 high, with thick stalks, and a heavy set of tomatoes. The same for the various peppers plants. The squash are over 3 feet high with enormous leaves. They are still producing a lot. The okra and purple hull peas were planted after the English peas were finished in the late spring. The deep green okra is starting to flower and set fruit. The purple hull peas lap over their rows and are full of blooms.

Here is what I think happened. The microbes in the soil went on a feed and multiplying frenzy with the molasses which is mostly carbon and provided a mass of nutrients to the roots and plants. This “Reblacking the Soil” is a part of the carbon cycle of plants taking in carbon dioxide from the air and returning oxygen to the atmosphere.

The nematodes have damages the cucumbers to where they have stopped producing. There are a few yellow limbs on one tomato plant. When I pulled up the bush beans, the root knots were fewer and smaller than in past years. I will let you know later about the tomatoes, okra, and squash.

– Herman Green

5/19/2017    Plant Diseases: Identification & Solutions