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moss in garden  RSS feed

 
Leah Sattler
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one of the old files in my brain is telling me moss is a sign of nutrient poor soil. am I right?

the soil has very little organic matter I can tell just by feeling it in my hands. the previous folks had a garden but they were into chemical fertilizers and pesticides. I planted peas last weekend and found quite a bit of moss in the garden. standard practice for me is to add lots of compost and use straw/hay mulch so it will be on its way to being fixed this year.
 
paul wheaton
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After three weeks of hearing Sepp say this sort of thing, I really need to book up more.  He listed stuff off about what plants indicate what sorts of things about soils.  He did this about three times.  But the first thing he always starts with is:  moss indicates acidic soil.

 
Susan Monroe
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Yes, moss is definitely an indicator of acidic soil.  The first thing you need to do before you amend it AT ALL is get at least a basic soil test.  Call your most local Cooperative Extension Service for where to go.  The soil tests usually run around $10.

It should tell you what the pH is (my normal soil is mossy and has a pH of 5.5-5.8.

It should also give you the calcium and magnesium levels.  If it indicates that you need both, dolomite lime may be suggested.  If your magnesium is okay, they may recommend calcitic lime.  You can't guess on this, get the test.  Organic material is great, but it's not going to buffer the lack of lime, esp in the time you will need it for pasture and garden.  Calcium is the backbone of all soil nutrients -- if you don't have enough, nothing else in the soil will work right, from the other nutrients to the microbes.

Even if you get the finest grind of lime, it will take three years for it to break down completely in the soil, about 1/3 per year. (A coarse grind can take 10 years.)  So, if you happened to want another soil test done in a year or two, BE SURE  to indicate in writing on the soil sample that you take in WHEN you last limed the soil (and how much, like 40lbs per 1000 sq ft), so they can allow for that.  Otherwise, even if you put on exactly the right amount, if only part of it has broken down, their readings will be off, and they would tell you to add more lime.  And then when ALL of it has broken down, your soil has been over-limed and the alkalinity will be too high.

Also ask if the soil test gives sulfur and boron levels (some don't).  Both of those are important, and most soils are deficient or totally lacking.

I would suggest you borrow Neal Kinsey's video called "Hand-On Soil Agronomy" from your library system, a good investment of two hours, and you'll learn a lot.  Ask your library for an InterLibrary Loan (ILL) if necessary.

Neal Kinsey is the guy I've recommended before on these boards for soil tests.  All he sells is information, no products, so you don't have to worry about the lab 'tilting' your test results so they can sell their products.

Ah, a new place, a whole new set of problems to solve!

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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yes indeed! a whole new set of probs! but a little acidic I can deal with. would one of the at home soil test kits be sufficient? don't those check ph levels and nitrogen and.... or are they not so accurate or efficient....
 
Susan Monroe
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Those little sticks only give the pH, not the reason why.  And they won't tell you what to do with the results.  There's more to soil than just pH.

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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I know I need more than ph. I'll go with the ag extension tests. I was thinking of going with this http://www.gardensalive.com/product.asp?pn=1317&ss=test%20 or some similiar kit but I don't have the extra brain cells to figure out what to apply right now (although I'm sure its not rocket science) and its $40 and it sounds like an analysis from an ag extension would be cheaper. some day I might buy that or something similiar just for the experience I'm sure it would deepen my understanding of soil, with the extension analysis  i feel like I will just send them some dirt and they will tell me what to do...not really my style to just follow directions without having something of a clue
 
paul wheaton
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Those kinds of tests are less than accurate even if you master them.  I think you would be better off getting professional tests done.  And then keep in mind that you can still have some pretty big differences from patch to patch on your land

 
paul wheaton
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Susan Monroe wrote:

I would suggest you borrow Neal Kinsey's video called "Hand-On Soil Agronomy" from your library system, a good investment of two hours, and you'll learn a lot.  Ask your library for an InterLibrary Loan (ILL) if necessary.


If you have a link to the video I can start harvesting the details that my library requires (they currently don't have the video).

Please?


 
Brenda Groth
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well I live in a part of the country with extremely acid soil in most parts and then a small area that is alkaline..and poor soil.

our acid soil is very very fertile but in some places it is not well drained..there we might get some moss or where it is very very shady moss will grow..
 
Susan Monroe
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That test only shows N, P, K levels, nothing else. No calcium, no magnesium, no lesser nutrients.


The video comes in DVD and VHS:

Hands-On Agronomy: Feeding and balancing your soil

by Neal Kinsey

From Acres U.S.A.,  2000

Sue
 
paul wheaton
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rose macaskie
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In my garden moss grows were someone put herbicide on the garden and ten years or so have passed and still very little grass grows there and what does is sparse, but there is lots of moss and a plant called vellosilla whose leaves are covered with long  fine hairs.     
       Moss gets its moisture from the air it is an epiphyte it dies down in dry weather  and lives in wet and its nutrients also come from the air from what has fallen into its kmany antler like leaves and i imagine vellosilla does the same with the long hairs it has on its leaves, that is why they can live on poisoned ground. Of course i need scientists to cheque out whether the kmoss and vellosillo can grow where the soil is poisoned, it is the only way i can understand the prescence of htese two plants where others no longer grow.

      I suggest putting down lots of wood chips or straw and innoculating it with mushrooms paul stamets sells to see if they can't get rid of the herbicide by breaking down its molecules as he says fungi can do if you have the right ones. agri rose macaskie.
velosillo 3.jpg
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rose macaskie
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Another picture of my moss and vellosilla covered soil. The dark patches are moss this is not a wet time of year and it is dry moss.
  I have to find a photo of what it looked like when the ground had just been covered with herbicides. The plants, as much the times as the grasses looked as if they had been charred sort of blackened and with white patches like embers except the plants had not broken up and weren't brittle.
      I hope this double photo loads up, sometimes when i have two photos on one page i can't get them posted here.  agri rose macaskie.
47 arce 47.jpg
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Brenda Groth
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not only acidy soil but also compacted soil with poor drainage generally indicated by moss.

however, moss is beautiful...you can scoop up bits, best in spring or late fall..and put it where yhou would like it..shade and moist areas..i like it in my woodsy areas or around stepping stones and under trees..

you can move it as is or blend it in a blender with buttermilk and spread it ..like on areas of stone or whatever.

stoney soil also will tend to be mossy naturally.

i kinda am partial to moss..used to go and gather it from wherever i could find it to start in my patio pavers before our housefire..but of course we lost all that when we reconstructed
 
rose macaskie
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      I have heard about the yogurt or butter milk an dmoss liquidized together and spilt were you want to grow moss is the way to propogate it and you have done it and it worked for you!
    I like moss i used to think how pretty when i saw it everywhere on the hills but now i see it as a sign that herbicides have been used seeing it has become a matter of some concern to me as i find it everywhere on the mountain sides. agri rose macaskie.
 
Leah Sattler
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buttermilk?! interesting...I think moss is pretty to in certain settings. the garden area is somewhat poorly draining. we had such a wet year that It was probably especially bad. I am hoping that the hay mulch is going to start breaking down and contributing to better drainage.
 
                                  
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Moss is becoming trendy.  The NY Times had an article about it last year I think it was.  People are using it instead of grass since it doesn't have to be mowed and several varieties are beautiful.  It's also being used increasingly for green roofs because it has very shallow roots, requires only a few inches of soil (actually they roll out moss-covered sod on roofs), is lighter than other types of green roofs, some varieties tolerate drought fairly well, and it holds moisture well.  The only problem with it is that until recently it could only be grown in shady areas.  But now they're developing mosses that can tolerate full sun. 

Some nurseries are specializing in it, such as:  http://www.mossacres.com/default.asp, which was mentioned in the NY Times article.
 
rose macaskie
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  i imagine it is a fashion that comes from japanese gardens they can have houses with moss coverd roofs and moss covered land. Here in hte middle of Madrid it is easy to buy shiny gardening books full of photos cheap the informative type are more expensive and i have several on japanese gardens which have some features i like. THe japanese do say that herbicide can be used to forment the growth of moss instead of grass. agri rose macaskie.
 
rose macaskie
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  i was talking to the locaql apiculturist about the use of herbicides in hte area an don my garden and he said I should do a test on th esoil, he said that if the plants still werent growing there then there was still herbicides present.
He also said the soil would be acid. on this thread paul wheaton says that sepp nolzer says aht moss grows on acid lnad and this person with a big apiculture business in hte hills around my house says herbicides cause a cacid soil, so it seems as if both things may be true. Moss grows on land that has been treated by herbicides and on acid land. agri rose macaskie
 
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