Appalachia Christmas

More about Moss


More about moss

After reading my Gathering Moss for Christmas post earlier this week, B.Ruth left the follow comment and she also sent me the two photos in this post.

Tipper, When I started reading this post, I glanced over to my old jar of moss on the kitchen window sill. It has been growing there for years. I love it and take care of it. If the sun gets too hot in the summer, I close the blinds a bit but for the most part the Kwanzan Cherry tree outside casts shade on the window so only an hour or two sun shines thru the window. It is growing in a bail pint jar. I am going to send you a picture of it as I can’t figure out how to get it on this post. My Little Red Riding Hood sits by the jar as do a couple of old milk bottles and gold finch figurines. When I want to smell the woodland, all I have to do is open the jar! Whiff a bit and the memories come back in a flash. I think it has basically now reached its pinnacle of growth. When I feel that it need a bit of moisture, as I am sure some leaks out the screwed on zinc lid over the months, I give it a very light, meaning a few drops, of moisture. I loved using moss for just about anything in the garden or on top of flower pots thru the years and of course crafts. I used to make lichen trees, shrubs glued on rocks and add miniature clay houses I made and mushroom men. I sold these for years. There are folks these days picking up our Appalachian woodland entertainment as children, and actually growing different mosses in their gardens. I loved this post Tipper, and love your crafts. Your jar of moss is similar to mine except mine is right side upards! ha Thanks Tipper, You may post my picture if you want to!


make your own terrarium

After I saw B.Ruth’s photos I was fascinated by the idea of growing moss in a jar. I asked her a few more questions about her jar of moss and this is what she said:

Tipper here is my moss jar. I love it! It is an old, old jar. If you look close you can see the air bubbles in the jar along the rim. I am not sure if a zinc top was what went on this jar but it worked and that is what I used. I got this jar at my mothers hid back on a basement shelf. So I know it came from back in the hills of Madison County. ha
Her Mother used quart jars mostly with glass tops or zinc tops. Makes me wonder if Mother used this jar when she played as a child. She told me she used the little glass inserts of zinc lids that had ruined or etched from salt when the kraut worked. Her Dad pulled out the little white glass lids for her to make little dishes.
I can’t remember exactly how long I have had the moss jar. It is like a terrarium, essentially living in it’s own environment. As long as it doesn’t get too hot or freeze and the moisture is even to the environment it lives in, it should live on and on. I used to build terrariums in large bottles and jars and sold them at the flea market with other crafty things. Back then I used all the methods the books suggested. Charcoal on the bottom, no charcoal with oil in it and sterile dirt, etc. Plants that were mostly greenery types, that were slow growing, etc. Water and seal the bottle. If too much moisture formed, then unseal and let it air out. Seal again. Soon it will balance itself out.
My moss  does not have charcoal or dirt under it. I was fixing an arrangement one day and the better half brought me this beautiful moss. I used what I needed and just couldn’t throw out the rest. I remembered the jar in the window and decided to put a chunk of it down in the jar. All it had underneath was the bit of leaf litter and small bit of loam stuck to the bottom, barely a sprinkling of soil. It was so green and pretty and thinking I might put a little plastic deer or something in with it later. I kind of forgot about it, even though I looked at it every time I washed the dishes. To my surprise it started growing. So I let it be and it has been there ever since.
During Christmas I’m going to make it my goal to go find me a piece of vibrant green moss in a holler somewhere up the creek and bring it home to grow in a jar in my kitchen just like B.Ruth’s.
A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Michael Borkman on his radio talk show EXtreme Carolina which airs on WJRB 95.1FM. My interview will air this weekend – Saturday December 17 and Sunday December 18 at the following times 1:30 p.m., 6:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time). You can go here to listen.


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  • Reply
    David Templeton
    December 17, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    Really nice. The story. The pictures. The comments.
    When I was a child, wondering about the back yard, I always liked finding a piece of broken bottle or jar, clear, embedded in the ground, part of the flask visible from eyeshot, a tiny microcosm inside, moss growing green in there. Could there be a tiny elf’s home? Imagine it’s a peek into the top of another tiny world. I never disturbed their world.

  • Reply
    Leslie Haynie
    December 16, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    How lovely is that? For sure on my list of things to do now!

  • Reply
    Karen Larsen
    December 16, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    I absolutely love this jar of moss! I will look for moss and do this in the warmer months. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    December 16, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    Surprise for me this morning! When I opened up your blog and saw the picture, for a second I thought I was in a time warp or something! ha My better half said when I showed him the picture, “I’ve seen that jar before, somewhere!” ha
    You can probably see in the pictures the outside hanging bird feeder, waterier and an extra Sheppard’s hook for the birds to land. This keeps them in line while on while waiting for their turn at the feeder. I have many feeders, etc. but this one is for the smaller birds filled only with sunflower seeds and I can see them up close, which I love! They watch me too! ha
    The red thing in the picture is a suet bag I made. I save all my onion, orange, clementine mesh bags, etc. These make perfect suet holders. I just cut off the labels. Slip in homemade suet balls, twist and tie and on the other end twist and form a loop for hanging. I then can just toss it when it gets empty. The raccoons have ripped off most of my metal ones. We find one occasionally in the edge of the yard or woods. I hope it’s not bears. Even though, they travel thru here sometimes!
    Funny thing. one winter a little inquisitive wren hopped on the window screen and peered onto the window sill at the moss jar. He/she sat there for a little bit checking out that green moss inside, I guess wondering how in the dickens it could get to that moss for a little pecking around. Finally it gave up but they will take a look at the greenery especially when it gets so cold outside!
    Hope everyone has a great Christmas, and one may have to way until the “artic blast” lets up a bit to go gather moss.
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS Glad the dust on the blinds didn’t show in the picture! ha

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 16, 2016 at 11:46 am

    When I was a little kid, I played with those porcelain inserts too. Yes, I am a man and yes I played house. I liked to cook as a child and still do. Anyone who likes to eat should be the same, but I digress. I cooked in the little zinc lids and ate off the little porcelain plates. If the zinc lids were too damaged for children to play with Daddy would bury them around his pecan trees. He said our soil was deficient in zinc, that pecans need zinc to produce fruit and hoped the lids would make the pecans would bear better. They didn’t!
    My understanding and experience tells me that moss doesn’t need soil to thrive. The fact that it peels readily off rocks if proof of that. It only uses the rock as an anchor. It has roots which it intertangles with those of its multitudinous neighbors to produce a matt which we look at as moss. Actually what we are looking at is thousands of tiny plants acting harmoniously as one. Those miniscule plants, without eyes, mouths, hands, feet or brains are easily able to do what Homo Sapiens have struggled with throughout our existence. What does that say about us?

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    December 16, 2016 at 11:40 am

    GREAT POST, Tipper! THOSE OLD TREASURES ARE SO SPECIAL TO ME! I have two water pitchers that Daddy brought from his old log house on Tusquittee. They are so special to me!
    That lady in Mitch-a-kan ort to come down south for the winter. Half the folks in my WRITERS GUILD OF TENNESSEE are from up thar! Eva Nell

  • Reply
    December 16, 2016 at 11:23 am

    I’ve handled Moss most of my life, never thought about putting some in an Old Canning Jar. B. Ruth is very observant and knows how to do things, I admire that! The next time I’m up the branch, I’ll try to remember to get some cause I like to have nature inside. Nice post…Ken

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 16, 2016 at 11:04 am

    I had the thought the other day that a cupcake tray from the grocery would make a nice terrarium. The clear top would let the light in and the black base would really set off whatever was in it. Wouldn’t be as pretty as the antique jars but a different moss or whatever could be grown in each cup.
    I rooted some azaleas last year using the terrarium technique. But the drought got all but two of them.

  • Reply
    Patsy Small
    December 16, 2016 at 10:07 am

    What a beautiful jar of moss! I want to make a moss terrarium too.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    December 16, 2016 at 8:26 am

    I love mosses. They are brightly colored and pretty much stay the same all year, and they take care of themselves. There is a lady near us in Pisgah Forest, NC named Mossin’ Annie. What she doesn’t know about mosses is not worth knowing!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 16, 2016 at 8:15 am

    Oh, B. Ruth, It’s beautiful. I love that your moss is in one of the very old jars. I love the old jars, they are so real…you know, as opposed to plastic. We seem to live in a plastic, fake world now. I had a few of my grandmothers old jars. I think I’ve given them all to Tipper.
    I had one of my grand mothers old milk jars. It was a half gallon jar with a handle. Most of her milk jars were gallon jars but I just loved this pretty little half gallon with the handle. I got the jar after he passed and when the Deer Hunter was little we used it for juice. I have since passed it on to Tipper and I occasionally see it in her fridge with juice or Russian Tea in it. Every time I see that jar I think of my Grandmother.
    My grandmother, Dollie was her name, had what not shelves where she kept beautiful little figurines like the ones in your photo….memories!

  • Reply
    December 16, 2016 at 8:08 am

    I like this idea. Here in Michigan I’d be hard-pressed to find a hunk of moss. We have 8 inches of snow and 5 to 7 coming tonight.

  • Reply
    Kim Stalcup
    December 16, 2016 at 8:06 am

    Oh, I’m going to have to hunt me up a nice piece of moss & give this a try too. I love the jar that Mrs. Ruth used! Great post.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 16, 2016 at 7:59 am

    How decorative, I would never have thought of this.

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