Mosses can be harvested by scooping, scraping, or raking. The technique for moss collection depends on the type of moss. Acrocarpous mosses can best be harvested after rainfall with the scooping technique. Pleurocarpous mosses can be collected by scooping, scraping, or raking.
Acrocarpous mosses are best harvested by scooping them after a rainfall.
Harvesting Acrocarpous moss with scooping can be achieved as follows.
First, clean any loose debris and weed the moss as much as possible before collecting. Once the moss is disturbed and removed from its original location, it’s more difficult to remove debris and vascular plants.
Secondly, slide a mason’s trowel, BBQ spatula, or any flat-bladed hand tool underneath a moss colony to collect a thin layer of soil along with a patch of moss, preserving the rhizomes and the integrity of the colony.
TIP: If you do not know the difference between Acrocarpous and Pleurocarpous mosses, read this article first.
Work in sections about the size of the palm of your hand or as large as you can transport without damage. These moss colonies can then be re-located intact or divided and nestled back into the soil to re-establish in a new location.
Frequent watering will speed up the re-establishment process. Watering mosses needs to be done in the right way. You might want to read this article about When And How To Water Moss first.
For acrocarpous mosses, begin with a greater frequency of watering, then decrease over time:
- Months 1 & 2: Water daily for up to two months to promote growth.
- Month 3: Water every three days for one month.
- Month 4: Water once a week for one month.
- Month 5: Water twice a month until the area is fully covered in moss.
After that, water only when rain has been absent for three weeks or more.
Pleurocarpour mosses can be harvested by scooping, scraping, or raking.
Harvesting Pleurocarpous mosses by scooping can be achieved in the same way as you would do with acrocarpous moss and is explained before.
Cut the soil under the colony and transplant the moss colony whole (with soil) to a new location.
To scrape or pull the mosses from the soil, cut at the top of the soil level or work the moss away from the soil with your hands.
A lateral pushing and pulling motion will loosen or break the rhizomes and allow the mosses to be removed from the soil.
This technique is similar to giving someone a back massage where the palms of your hands are flat on top of the moss, and you are pressing down.
Slowly push and pull, keeping contact between your hands and the moss to loosen and break the rhizomes holding the moss in place.
With your fingertips, work your way around the area until it is loose, tearing an edge to allow you to peel it up gently. Scraping should also be done when the moss is wet.
This will also allow you to harvest the moss without any soil, lessening the weight for transport, thus increasing your chances of keeping the colony section whole.
The moss section can then be transplanted to the new substrate for establishment. Harvesting mosses in this fashion is also helpful when moving them from a fallen tree to soil or another substrate when you intend to fragment them into smaller pieces.
Raking the mosses can also be used to remove moss from areas where they are mixed with weeds and grasses. By raking the mosses, you can leave the root-anchored plants behind and harvest the mosses in fragments.
This harvesting technique is best done when the moss is dry. It may also be helpful to agitate the moss with your fingertips until the fragments are free.
Spreading And Watering
Spread the moss fragments into a prepared area and water frequently to establish new rhizome anchors.
Pleurocarpous mosses can be watered daily to encourage the establishment and spreading. It is unnecessary to reduce the frequency as you would with acrocarpous mosses.
TIP: There are different watering techniques for mosses. Reading the article When And How To Water Moss might be helpful.