Used as a preservative for thousands of years, honey can be applied to organic Cannabis gardens for a variety of reasons.
Stressed plants can be treated or prevented by cultivating the micro-herd
Using Honey As a Carbohydrate in Cannabis Cultivation
Applied in both soil and soil-less gardens, honey can be used as a natural carbohydrate in organic gardening. This ancient simple sugar source easily breaks down into a usable form to feed and support the growth of micro-flora (beneficial bacteria, fungi, etc.) and helps them to flourish. This, in turn, increases the plant's vitality and vigor, as the micro-herd is essential in allowing the plant to uptake and process nutrients in usable forms. Stressed plants may be returned to a stronger, more stable state and those on the verge may be brought back, preventing heavy stress from occurring.
Quillaja saponaria or soap bark tree, extracts of which can be combined with honey to make natural supplements [Credit: Franz Xaver]
Rather than being used on its own, honey is typically combined with other natural substances to create a super fertilizer mix; many commercial companies do produce these mixes but home growers may create such recipes on their own. You can browse gardening books or experiment to create your own super mix. Alternate ingredients that act as organic carbon sources include, but are not limited to: amino acids, pure cane molasses, yucca extract, montmorillonite (a clay mineral composite containing around seventy trace elements), volcanic ash, soap bark extract (Quillaja saponaria) and extracts from certain sea plants.
Dosage varies, but carbohydrate mixes are typically applied at a rate of five to fifteen milliliters per gallon of water. Always read the label before applying, especially when using a new product in your garden.
One tablespoon of honey contains about sixty-four calories and about seventeen grams of carbohydrates, the majority of which are from sugars. A tiny bit of sucrose combines with a slightly larger volume of glucose; the bulk of the sugars in honey are fructose. Honey helps to raise the Brix levels in fruiting plants; this boost in plant sugar levels can increase fruiting and flowering. In addition, the flowers and fruits produced will be sweeter and their aroma and flavor will intensify and improve.
Cannabis cuttings can be rooted with honey in place of hormones
Honey Provides Natural Rooting Assistance
A perhaps lesser-known application of honey in gardening regards rooting cuttings or clones. Cannabis cuttings are usually dipped in rooting hormones before being placed into rockwool cubes, seedling plugs, etc., but those who wish to keep a low chemical content in their garden may want to consider trying honey instead of hormones. Clones are trimmed according to the normal method, scarred or sliced towards the cut end (if you so choose) and dipped between one and two centimeters into a fresh, clean cap-full or small cup of honey – a cold medicine measuring cup is often ideal for this purpose if you do not have a nutrient measure.
Place the cuttings into the rooting medium as you would if using hormones. The rooting time may be slightly longer than it is when using chemicals; however, some strains simply root faster than others and you may notice no difference at all.
While it may seem counterproductive to apply a straight sugar source to plants and soil, the honey acts as an anti-microbial and anti-fungicidal agent, protecting the cuttings against invading pathogens and increasing your chances of success. 'Damping off' is the easiest way to lose fragile clones, and honey's fantastic antiseptic properties decrease the opportunity for such nefarious opportunists to take hold. Be certain to use real, organic honey if possible and always keep gardening implements and areas clean.
Other Benefits of Having Honey in Your Home
Some gardeners prefer to implement multipurpose agents in their crops and honey offers many alternate uses in the home. While high quality, organic honey may be costly, bulk purchasing can save money in the end, and the honey may be applied to non-plant areas of your life as well. You can bathe with the amber liquid and use it as an anti-bacterial soap and moisturizer or treat acne and other skin issues, such as abrasions, skin rashes and burns. For the latter, apply a thin layer as you would a salve or ointment; sprinkle a fine layer of cornstarch over the affected area or apply a dressing or bandage.
Oral care applications include cleaning teeth, treatment of mouth sores, bleeding gums, etc. when using raw honey as a mouth wash. Treat your hair and scalp to an at-home spa day by applying raw honey a half hour before washing your hair. Some people use local honey to inoculate themselves against pollen in their immediate environment, lessening the effects of seasonal hay fever. Tests are even being conducted to prove the anti-tumor properties that honey possesses, as well as the ability to prevent certain diseases. Honey has a long shelf life, as it never spoils, thus it can also be used as a preservative.
A Word of Warning Before Embarking Upon Honey Application in Your Garden
These days, not all honey is true or clean. Sometimes beneficial pollen has been processed out and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) may have been added. Thoroughly inspect product labels and make sure to source an ethically-produced variety, as many honeybee populations are dwindling or threatened around the world. Naturally, you might shy away from using the most expensive honey available as a carbohydrate source or in rooting cuttings, but if you manage to purchase a decent variety or in bulk, honey serves multiple purposes, allowing you to get the most for your money.
[Thumbnail Credit: Waugsberg]
[Header Photo Credit: Jo Anna Barber]