Molasses is a powerful, yet often overlooked tool when it comes to growing cannabis. Properly used, it can strengthen and boost the very foundation of your growth.
Growing cannabis is an art form—fairly easy to pick up, but difficult to master. As you become more experienced and get a good hold on the basics you often look to start mastering more advanced techniques. One such area of expertise is soil composition, and tailoring your feed to your specific strain and environment. Although there is a lot that can be done with composition, there is one tool in the cannabis grower’s arsenal that often gets overlooked, and that is molasses.
MOLASSES: FEEDING THE SOIL
Your soil is the very foundation of your cannabis growth—it is full of nutrients and microorganisms that all work together to keep your cannabis plant strong and healthy as it grows. Whilst it is important to ensure the nutritional balance of the soil is correct, it is also essential to maintain a suitable environment where microorganisms can thrive. This is what really separates the good from the expert cultivator.
This is where molasses comes in. While molasses is quite rich in nutrients, it is primarily used as a carbohydrate source for the organisms in your soil, effectively feeding the soil and improving it as a foundation for your cannabis. The microorganisms found within the soil play a vital role in the growth of your cannabis, and they also require the right nutrients to thrive. By giving them molasses, you ensure they have what they need, and subsequently boost the structure, moisture retention, microorganism content, and efficiency of the soil—which in turn benefits your cannabis in many ways.
Improves the base quality of the soil
Helps prevent the build-up of pathogens that will potentially harm your plants
Reduces salt buildup that can cause nutritional problems
Molasses contains a good amount of macro and micronutrients, all of which are essential to cannabis health to one degree or another. As both macro and micronutrients are not required in huge amounts, it can sometimes be quite hard to diagnose a deficiency. By regularly adding molasses to your grow, you can ensure your cannabis has everything it needs.
ADVANTAGES OF MOLASSES OVER BRANDED SUPPLEMENTS
When it comes to supplements, there is no end to commercial, branded products on the market. Whilst some are effective, they are often very costly (we are talking exclusively about supplements here, not the actual primary nutrient feeds). However, many of these supplements will actually contain molasses in them, as it has quite a large array of nutrients within them. This makes the main advantage of buying molasses over branded supplements a point of cost. Molasses can usually be purchased quite cheap when compared to branded supplements and provides most of the nutrients you would find within them. When you buy a branded product, you are paying for convenience.
WHAT EXACTLY IS MOLASSES?
To put it simply, molasses is a highly viscous by-product of sugar refinement. Once you strip the sugar from the raw sugar cane juice, you end up with two products: white sugar and molasses, the latter of which contains a lot of minerals and only residual sugars. It is often used as a syrup in cooking and is a great source of carbohydrates for the beneficial micro-critters that live in your soil.
But not all molasses is the same. Some are made to a much lesser quality, and can often contain preservatives, additives, and other chemicals you do not want around your cannabis. It is important to obtain organic molasses suitable for garden use. The problem is, that organic molasses from the supermarket is on the pricey side. However, some garden stores offer molasses for agricultural use, which is perfectly fine for cannabis.
There are two types of molasses: sulphured and unsulphured. Choosing the right type can actually be quite confusing, as both types do contain some sulphur—a nutrient required by your cannabis. The major distinction is that sulphured molasses actually contains sulphur dioxide, which acts as a preservative and antimicrobial substance. What this means is that sulphured molasses will actually kill the microbes you are trying to feed. Unsulphured molasses only contains sulphur, not sulphur dioxide—so it will feed your cannabis without killing the beneficial microbes in the soil. So make sure you get unsulphured, organic molasses.
USING MOLASSES WITH YOUR CANNABIS
There are a few ways you can incorporate molasses into your cannabis growing. It is often used as part of a regular feeding schedule, or even during soil preparation before the growth has even begun. It’s a very flexible resource, so no matter your situation, you will be able to work it in.
Including molasses in your watering schedule is probably the easiest and most common way to administer the substance. Simply dissolve the molasses in your water and apply as you would usually.
When it comes to determining a dose, personal experience is what will really define it. As a starting point, use 1–2 tablespoons of molasses per 5 litres of water. Make sure that it is lukewarm water, as this will make it much easier for the molasses to dissolve. From here, you can assess how the molasses affects your soil and plants, adjusting the dose accordingly.
Using small doses helps prevent any unnecessary stress or risk of nutrient burn on your cannabis, especially early on in its life cycle. In most cases, the benefits of molasses will be noticed primarily during the flowering phase; however, it is good practice to use it throughout its life cycle, from veg to flowering, whenever your plants are on “just water” days.
If you prefer, it is possible to use molasses at the same time as nutrient feeds—just make sure you keep an eye on your soil’s pH value, as adding an additional substance to your feeding schedule could cause fluctuation. As long as you know how to manage the pH of your soil, this should not be a long-term problem.
Treating soil before you plant in it is really simple, and a nice way to get your plants off to a great start. Simply use the above technique to make a mixture, and water it into your soil mix for a few days before planting.
MOLASSES AND COMPOST TEA
Compost tea is an excellent way to feed your cannabis a wide spectrum of nutrients, enzymes, and microorganisms to supplement their growth. Molasses is usually a key ingredient in compost tea, as it allows you to build up a gigantic injection of beneficial microbes that can help redeem even the worst-quality soil around.