The Continuing Saga Of A Backyard Moss Farm
In case you've found this lens first, I moved to Seattle and started Moss Farming in the light well outside my bedroom window. That lens covers my first year and initial moss learning and this one will fill you in on all my discoveries and progress since then.If you are just beginning to grow moss, I really recommned that first lens as it goes into more detail of how I got started from scratch with my moss garden. If you've got some moss already and are trying to increase it, or learn more about how to maintain it, this lens will do you just fine!
This is a mossy stone bridge wall in winter. Moss grows like crazy here in the cold damp of the Pacific Northwest.
Moss In Winter
Can you see those little white specks all over the place in this picture? What sort of looks like moss in bloom is in fact moss with a layer of fresh hail on it. This picture was taken the second week of January 2007. We've had freezing temps and we got hit with a good snowstorm and some flurries this week.
This picture was taken out my window just as it was all starting. Now, days later, there are little patches of snow sitting on top of the moss, and the snow that was sitting on just rock has all melted away.
The only moss book I use is Schenk's. His experiences and research into moss span the world, and there is great advice in this volume for moss gardeners anywhere! Good info and easy to read for the beginning moss farmer.
How Does Moss Do In Snow?
I guess this year, I'm gonna find out. This is only about a week after the hail picture. This is the goddess statue that sits meditating in the moss garden.
She looks rather pleased with her snowy hat and blanket, don't you think?
A lot of the time, the daytime temps get warm enough to melt off a lot of the snow when we get it. Often, it will linger longer on my patches of moss, so I guess the moss is insulating them somewhat against the rising temps.
A Moss Gardening Poll
Are you a Moss Gardener?
Seeing An Example Of Seasonal Changes
Remember the moss on my friend's truck from last April? I got down to the Bay Area in February this year, and not only was the moss back again this year, but it's much more robust due to being earlier in the year.
It's getting a lot more moisture and less sunlight than it will get in April and you can see how it's not only a thicker and more plush clump, the color is darker too.
This is a great example of how moss goes in cycles and also illustrates that it's not supposed to look the same year-round.
And the moss goes Marching on...
Here is a brick that I pulled out of the patio section above the light well and moved down into the hole. During the off-season (the summer) it had the faintest sheen of green that seemed to cling to it. It was in the shade, under the edge of a bush and a few of its neighbors were starting to get really crumbly edges.
I had a hunch that with a change of location, this would prove itself to be a nice old brick just swarming with moss. Now that it's in a spot with more shade that retains a higher level of moisture, the whole thing has furred-over very nicely. When I see where it used to live, the moss on those bricks is much more sparse and a lighter green, as they get direct light and even a touch of sun if we get a really clear day.
This light well can get some pretty bright light in summer, but it's always indirect. No sun ever falls directly into the light well.
Give Your Moss A Drink Of Buttermilk
an organic moss growing tip!
In the fall, when the early winter rains and cooler temps wake up fall mosses and induce a phase of growing, you can give your moss a little drink of buttermilk to help it along! Get a small empty spray bottle and mix up your moss mist at a ratio of 2/3 C. buttermilk to 1/3 C. water. Spritz this around the edges of growing moss and on nearby rock or concrete surfaces. The acidity of the buttermilk and the proteins in it will encourage new moss growth.
How Moss Makes More Moss
the reproductive processes of moss
See the little growths coming up out of the moss? That's part of how moss reproduces. It's called a sporophyte and that's the part of the moss that puts out spores. The moss produces these once the male and female parts of the moss have successfully pollinated.
The capsules at the ends will release their spores and those will land elsewhere and, if the conditions are right, form more moss.
I've moved a few sporing clumps from the yard down into the light well to help encourage the spores to spread around the space.
Growing Moss on a Statue
giving some old yard art new life
I got this statue of the Egyptian cat goddess Bast over 20 years ago, when I lived in Santa Cruz. I did an Easter job at a garden/yard center where a girl I'd gone to college with worked after we got done with school. We'd done theater together and she hired me to do kids face painting while she had two high school students act out scenes from "Alice in Wonderland." The idea was that we entertained the kids and the parents got to shop without interruption. Apparently it worked really well and they had a great day of business.
I took the offer of some yard art and some cash for my pay, and picked the large Bast because she has ear piercings and a nose ring. She was blank white when I first got her, and I painted her black and did detailing with enamel in magenta, electric blue and vibrant purple.
Now that I live in Seattle, the rain is a lot heavier than anywhere else I lived previously. Bast has been peeling slowly but surely and now most of her head is bare of paint. I've noticed a slight but growing green tinge in the pits and crevices: yes, she's starting to grow moss. She was formally moved down into the moss garden just before the winter solstice 2007, and was misted down with buttermilk as part of her relocation.
Mossy Road Stops - moss-related places of interest on the internet
- Moss Basics | ofBonsai Magazine
Moss is a simple type of plant that lacks roots; the plant is anchored by means of threadlike structures called rhizoids. It also lacks stems, and leave...
- Grow Moss on Garden Pottery | Growing Moss on Hypertufa Planters
How to grow moss on most types of garden pottery. Four easy and inexpensive growing moss recipes with instructions. Great for aging hypertufa troughs.
another mossy infusion in March 2008
We really seem to have two mossy seasons in Seattle. One is in springtime when we start to get warmer weather and the overnight frosts have really stopped and the other is in the fall once the temps start to cool off and we get a few rains.
That big planter where I grew moss for transplanting before was replanted with summer flowers after I removed the layer of moss and moved it down into the light well. Those flowers died off when winter came and the pot was just left to do its own thing over the winter. Now that it's March, I decided it would be nice to have it colorful again and got some primroses to plant in it.
Even though it had been left idle, a lot of moss had grown back over the dirt surface. Here is all that moss harvested out of the planter so that it can be moved down to the light well. I've been concentrating most of my moss transplanting into the left end of the light well (as you look out the window at it) so this moss will be placed over at the right end.
Mossy Patches - other moss news and features
- All-Natural Moss Carpet You Can Grow Right in Your Home
An organic carpet design by plant artist Makoto Azuma, in cooperation with Unitika.
Moss Progress - March 2010
Moss Mauraders - critters love moss too!
When you get squirrels digging in your moss garden, they tend to leave chunky divets, not unlike what happens on a golf course. But a full "carpet peel" like you see here is most often the result of raccoons looking for tasty bugs and worms to eat. Once your moss is well-established it actually holds up okay to this sort of thing. All you need to do it roll it back into place. If the roots seem to have gotten really dry during their air exposure, just water lightly.