Grow Your Own Moss. Get a jump start now on those mossy boulders for the summer shade garden. Cooler temperatures and rainy weather provide proper conditions for establishing or expanding a “moss garden.”
Select a shady boulder in an area that will receive adequate water during the summer months, or start replacing a patch of lawn in the shade where the grass never grows. Keep in mind: water is critical to keep moss looking lush and healthy. If there are patches of moss already in the landscape, scoop up a clump with a little soil attached to the back and place it in its new home - on a boulder, in the landscape, perhaps around some stepping stones. Moss attaches itself well to porous surfaces (boulders, a patch of dirt, a tree stump) and acidic soil - so choose a spot carefully. Refer to one of the formulas below to “feed” the moss and get it established.
“Formulas” for making your own moss or expanding an existing moss garden are listed below. One is beer-based and the other is yogurt/buttermilk-based. (I prefer using the beer-base in the summertime to avoid the sour milk smell in warm weather when the formula starts to “ripen.”)
Both formulas are prepared in a kitchen blender. The end product should be thick and creamy, but pourable:
Place in a blender & blend: one handful of healthy green moss from the shade garden (NOT sphagnum moss); one-half teaspoon of sugar; 1-1/2 cups of beer. If necessary, add enough (non-chlorinated) water to the blender until you have a creamy mass. Pour carefully over the transplanted moss, or pour the mixture in a location where you are trying to establish a new moss garden. Keep it watered!
Yogurt/Buttermilk Base Formula
Place in a blender & blend: one handful of healthy green moss from the shade garden (NOT sphagnum moss); one teaspoon of sugar; and 1-1/2 cups of buttermilk or plain yogurt, and just enough (non-chlorinated) water until you have a creamy mass. Pour carefully over the transplanted moss, or pour the mixture in a location where you are trying to establish a new moss garden. Keep it watered!
Another Alternative for Feeding Existing Moss Gardens: “Cow Manure Tea”
I haven’t tried this on a moss garden yet, but it’s on my winter agenda. I use organic Authentic Haven Brand Cow Manure Tea on a number of things I grow (including container gardens, houseplants, and spring bulbs) with spectacular results. It seems probable that Cow Manure Tea would be a suitable “fertilizer” for expanding the moss garden (and it’s much easier for me to prepare and use). If you are interested in ordering the product, it can be purchased by mail order, here. A little research seems to indicate that the Cow Manure Tea will increase soil acidity, and therefore provide the essential elements for a healthy moss garden.
Further reading on the effects of cow manure and its ability to increase soil acidity can be found here. Soil acidity (and regular watering) is important for a healthy moss garden.