Mosser Lee's Sphagnum Moss

mercygardenOctober 1, 2008

Hi has anybody used Mosser Lee's Long Fibered Sphagnum Moss in a potting mix or a soiless application?

It is not peat based and it an organic renewable resource. It has the consistency of co-co coir and is very light weight. Some people may use it for decorum but Mosser Lee states it will improve water retention by 20%. It looks very interesting. You can see for yourself;

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Peat moss, no matter where it is from or who sells it is a non renewable resource. The harvesting of peat moss destroys the habitat of many animal species and is not environmentally sound, no matter what the industry tells you.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2008 at 6:35AM
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"Don't confuse sphagnum moss with sphagnum peat moss. Sphagnum moss and sphagnum peat moss are not the same product. Sphagnum moss is used in the floral industry to line wire baskets and make wreaths. It is the LIVING moss that grows on top of a sphagnum bog. Sphagnum peat moss is used as a soil conditioner by gardeners. It is the dead material that accumulates in the lower levels of a sphagnum bog. Harvesters of the horticultural peat moss remove the top few inches of the live sphagnum moss before harvesting the peat from the lower levels of the bog.

There has also been some confusion about which of the two is actually the source of a fungal disease called Cutaneous Sporotrichosis, which according to Gerry Hood of the Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association, is causing some concern within gardening circles. Sporotrichosis is a chronic infection identified by ulcerous skin lesions and is caused by coming in contact with the fungus, Sporothrix schenckii. Research has found no cases of sporotrichosis being transmitted in sphagnum peat moss. However, the fungus Sporothrix schenckii,does live in the top, living portion of the bog that is removed before peat harvesting.

Research done by the Mississippi State Forestry Commission, the Mississippi State Board of health, and the University of Mississippi Medical Center found that an outbreak of Cutaneous Sporotrichosis among Mississippi forestry workers in 1975 and 1976 was due to contaminated sphagnum moss. All of the infected persons had been in contact with pine seedlings packed in sphagnum moss or with sphagnum moss alone, and all lesions were on the hands and arms. The contaminated moss was believed to have come from a single source. This source probably received a lightly contaminated batch of sphagnum moss and stored this batch outside. Being outdoors in the moist, warm, Mississippi summer caused the fungus to increase and heavily contaminate the moss. Once it was realized that the batch was contaminated and was causing forest workers to get sick the rest of the batch was disposed of. The workers who contracted the disease were treated with orally administered potassium iodide. Another study in 1988 of workers who contracted Cutaneous Sporotrichosis also showed it was caused by handling and packing with sphagnum moss.

Precautions are taken by the industry. To guard against epidemic sporotrichosis, nurseries store all sphagnum moss indoors, disinfect storage and packing buildings monthly, use precautions when handling moss, and regularly test recently received and stored moss for the fungus Sporothrix schenckii. Home gardeners using sphagnum moss should wear gloves and long sleeves to prevent coming in contact with the dried moss.

Remember, sphagnum moss is NOT the same as the safe, sphagnum peat moss you use as a soil amendment!

(References: "Don't Confuse Sphagnum Moss with Peat Moss," by Gerry Hood, President, Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association; "Cutaneous Sporotrichosis in Forestry Workers," by K.E. Powell, A. Taylor, B.J. Phillips, D.L. Blakey, G.D. Campbell, L. Kaufman, and W. Kaplan. JAMA 240(3):10, 12-13; and "Multistate Outbreak of Sporotrichosis in Seedling Handlers," by T. England, M.J. Kasten, R. Martin, T. Cote, D.L. Morse, R. David, and J.P. Davis. Journal of the Amer. Medical Assoc. 260(19):2806, 2811.)

(Prepared by Karen Nash, Consumer Horticulture Intern, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0327.)"

    Bookmark   October 14, 2008 at 2:26AM
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It appears that this is an old site w/little added since 2008. Noted in one of my many 2011 gardening subs. that one mag. offers product for members to try to "test." One is MoserLee "No Damp-Off" seed starter. (Damp-off" is always my DOOM!)Reading this 3 yr. old site of the dangers of some freakin' desease, etc. makes me wonder if the mag. product staff have done their research. I was going to order this stuff for the few seeds I start (and few make it to the garden (ALIVE) but need more input from others on this site ~~~ if in fact anyone gets back to this site anymore. CKL in Vermont.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 11:43PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I realize it's an old post, but these are copy/pastes from a couple of my old posts that discuss these issues and maybe add some perspective.

Yes, you CAN catch Sporotrichosis, which is a fungal infection, from handling sphagnum moss. It's often referred to as the Rose Gardener's disease, since thorn pricks are a common way of introducing the fungus - barberry and brambles like blackberry and raspberry are also known sources. The fungus is also commonly found in soil, on flowers and shrubs, on wood products, timber, forest litter, and a variety of mosses, so it is almost certain it could be found in any potting soils that include any of these products (most commonly do). The most common source of infection is the house cat.

It should also be understood that not all sphagnum moss carries Sporotrichosis. The Wisconsin Division of Health, Bureau of Community Health and Prevention (BCHP), investigated a 1981 diagnosis of Sporotrichosis found in two brothers employed at a garden centre in Wisconsin. The investigation revealed two additional cases of Sporotrichosis among the employees.

The garden center had sixteen workers make funeral wreaths during the Winter of 1980. The infected moss used was harvested from bogs located in central Wisconsin and was purchased from a single wholesale dealer. However, in an investigation of a local cemetery where 12 employees produced 2,000-3,000 wreaths per autumn using sphagnum moss purchased from the same Wisconsin supplier, no additional cases were noted. Again, use your own judgment, but it appears that the source of the outbreak was limited to just one bad batch of sphagnum from a wholesale dealer who had also supplied countless quantities of Sphagnum moss that was completely free of Sporotrichosis.

Bear in mind that the risk of Sporotrichosis is very small; in the US the incidence of infection is not precisely known but is estimated at only 1-2 cases per million people, and most of those cases are from sources OTHER than sphagnum moss. An estimated 200-250 cases occur per year, nationwide. Statistically speaking, it is far more dangerous to cross the road than to handle the moss.

I know you'll use your own good judgment and common sense when/if you use it, but it is an effective anti-fungal/antibacterial medium, acting against those strains/species of fungi/bacteria that cause problems when we are trying to root.

It's been used as a wound dressing for hundreds of years, and as a favored medium of experienced horticulturists for rapidly inducing roots in air layers and cuttings. Bonsai practitioners have long used it as intensive care for trees that have contracted root rot because they were grown in heavy mediums with excessive water retention, commercially prepared and packaged potting soil being a primary offender. Sphagnum moss has excellent internal water retention properties, however unlike sphagnum peat, in its live form it is able to retain its open structure and so is fast draining and well aerated.

Less well known is that Sphagnum moss contains a high zinc content in the form of a naturally occurring antibiotics/anti-fungals called Tropolene and Sphagnan. The anaerobic bacteria common in heavier soils that cause the decay that inhibit woody cuttings from rooting are nullified by the antiseptic properties of Sphagnum moss. Hence, pure Sphagnum (without the addition of any other organic material) is considered by most experienced horticulturalists to be as close to a perfect medium for root induction as you will find.

Chicken Little would be pleased at the inference that peat is non-renewable. In my estimation, it doesn't matter much if it's renewable or not, and I probably won't be feeling any too guilty about using any form of peat in the immediate future.

Here is a reply I often leave when the non-renewable thing comes up:

Sorry, but I'm not catching the pitch re the non-renewable lament. In Canada alone, there are more than 270 million acres of harvestable peat bogs - that's just the harvestable peat. If we make the conservative guess that the harvestable portions of these bogs are 10 feet deep, that means there are probably more than 900 billion cu ft available for harvest, just in Canada! That doesn't even take into consideration what's available in Europe, Asia, or places like New Zealand where they also mine peat, OR what isn't practical to harvest. Canada currently has mining/harvesting operations underway on approximately 40 thousand acres or about .014% (that reads 14 one thousandths of 1 percent or what's available).
Check the math - it's accurate and conservative. It's more likely that the next ice age will be upon us and glaciers will have covered what's available and it will have been turned to oil before we even use a noticeable percentage.
IMO - Renewable/non-renewable = moot.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 2:53PM
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