January 15, 2014

Buttermilk Moss Milkshake



A few months ago I woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat with the awful realization that the creeping mint (Mentha requienii) I had planted around my flagstone path was going to take over the entire garden.  My husband got a good laugh when I told him the next morning.  No monsters under the bed in my nightmares, just runaway mint.  Scaaaaary.  Anyway, the original section of mint I planted a couple of years ago reseeded up to several feet away and kept coming back even though I had dug it out.  I paid my kids to dig up all the little clumps of mint from the backyard path so we could try something else.  It was a good thing I thought of this just a couple of months after planting the mint, so it hadn't established itself very well yet and was easy to remove.  I had heard of blending moss with buttermilk in the blender to spread it (see an example here), so I decided to try it.  Above is the moss buttermilkshake in process.



Several friends were generous enough to let me dig moss from their yards to use in my project.  Because I had such a large area to spread with moss, I mixed one part water with one part buttermilk and threw several clumps of moss into each batch.  The buttermilk is acidic and creates a good environment for the moss to start growing.  After blending for a few seconds, the mixture looked like this.  Yummy.  My blender didn't seem to have any damage afterward, even though I didn't get all of the bark, dirt and rocks out of the moss clumps before blending them. 



I read that blending up the moss stimulates it to start growing, as long as it gets regular moisture after being spread.  I made many batches and dribbled them all around the flagstones in the backyard path.  After a few weeks, the moss began to grow as you see above.  It was good that I tried this in the fall, when temperatures were cooler so it was easier to keep the area moist.  I kept the sprinklers watering regularly even after the first light frosts.



The moss has continued to grow whenever it warms up above freezing.  Many areas of my flagstone path get too much sun to keep moss happy in the summer.  I'm thinking of digging out the moss from the cracks in the sidewalk in front of our house to spread in the sunniest areas, since that type of moss grows in full sun.  Maybe it will work, maybe not.  Eventually my trees will get large enough to shade the path for at least part of the day, but even then some areas might be too sunny.  I'll keep evaluating and see if I need to think of something else. 



Here is an area that has filled in well.  A friend warned me that the moss in her yard grows all over her flagstones and has to be cut back periodically.  I was hoping to avoid that, but it seems that all groundcovers tend to take over flagstones eventually.  I feel better about the moss than the mint, though.  I still have peppermint and spearmint in my garden, but they are safely enclosed in pots.  No more runaway mint nightmares for me!

7 comments:

  1. Hi VW,

    Wow, of all the things to have nightmares about... Mint? Really? heehe.

    Moss is lovely though, although watch out in winter when it's wet and slippery! Very pretty for macro shots though as they bloom in winter/early spring and make for pretty photos in otherwise boring times of the year.

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    1. Liz, usually I do think about more important things if I'm going to worry about stuff at night. Like my tornado toddler getting into real trouble and getting really hurt . . . today the little guy combed hand soap all over his hair - thinking it was hair gel? - and then rubbed it into his eyes. It took quite a while to wash it all out while he was screaming and writhing. Thank heaven it wasn't anything worse. Yeah, he probably tops my worry list right now! But the mint panic was pretty funny that one night.

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  2. Ha! The things that wake us crazy gardener up in a cold sweat. Looking forward to seeing more green grout in your paving stones! :)

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  3. I am so glad to see someone I know who is a great gardener really try this. I have been wanting to try this out and now I will have to. I love moss and I want to try it on some terracotta pots.

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    1. Thanks Lona - I would be sure to use full strength buttermilk on the pots. I poured some of my mixture on some of my boulders, and it just washed off the next time it rained. Too watery. I think you'd want the mixture thick and goopy so it stuck and dried and held the moss there on the side of the pot.

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  4. I used Moss Acres' Moss Milkshake and had terrible results. I created a simple YouTube video Product Review series. Hope this helps my fellow gardeners and consumers:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-5jJVSPDUc

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  5. I've seen this recipe used with beer as well, have you heard any success with that? Looking at your results I'm just going to go grab some buttermilk. I have a well shaded front yard under an oak tree, and we have had success with natural moss growing, but I want to do a moss front yard for easy upkeep. Thank you for this post!

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