Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Can't get enough of the fuzzy: Moss

Plants, we eat 'em for taste, we like how they smell and look visually for color and texture in the garden, but it's those rare few (like lamb's ears) that that make us feel like children by simply touching them.

Furry-like plants evoke this sort of odd line between plant and mammal, and like cat/dog/rodent owners, it's hard for us to fathom enjoyment in petting a fish or a turtle or snake (sorry amphibian/reptile/aquatic pet owners).

It's like the "cuddle affect," where when you encounter something soft and tickles your fingertips a person just melts and feels soothed.

That's moss for me.

(moss in its natural environment)

Moss is a great little plant--- and useful too:
(1) As many gardeners are familiar with, sphagnum and peat moss are helpful amendments andn growing mediums (though ought to be used/bought from sustainable sources or not used at all)

(2) As peat it's been a cheap renewable fuel source for those in many countries (if harvested properly).

(3) It makes scotch so darn tasty and distinctive.

(4) Sphagnum moss has been used in the past for dressing wounds due to its absorbancy levels and slight antibacterial properties.

(5) It's even forged ahead of its ancient roots to be part of biotechnology!

(6)... of course I had to say it, some varieties are edible!

I allow moss to grow wherever it wishes in the garden, mostly on the north facing brick under the brush by the house and on the soil where it creeps into off the brick and one concrete edgers, really softens things up.

It's surprisingly cold hardy for something so delicate looking, and with a little frost on it, it holds its own visually.

There's a fairly ready supply of moss in my garden and I luckily live near a woods and man-made creek where the moss likes to grow, so I gather some here and there at times and like to use it to make gifts as amusement for myself and others:

(Thrift store assumed to be wedding favor metal basket)

(full basket shot)
(side view of moss squished into lacey metal basket holes)

I've attempted, somewhat unsuccessfully, to propagate moss using the buttermilk/beer method, but maybe I'll try this recipe.

What probably happened (AKA "stupid things I did that you should avoid") is that I spread the mixture on too dry or sunny areas slash I didn't "mist" them enough to make sure they were happy, which means they probably also weren't in a naturally happy location in the first place.

Though moss propagation is slow, it's better to grow your own rather than constantly harvest it from the wild as its slow growth makes it hard for it to recover.

Here are some great examples of moss art/graffti/use:
http://www.re-nest.com/re-nest/moss-bathmat-feels-good-looks-great-075565
http://storiesfromspace.co.uk/data/html/mossgraffiti.html
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/08/eco-graffiti-london-brooklyn.php
http://www.dwell.com/articles/unauthorized-moss-art.html

1 comment:

A Home Made said...

I like the cut-outs on the side of the basket.

And I guess moss is never one of those things that ever popped into my head as something to grow.

Good luck. Let us know what method works for getting them to propogate