Garden Interview: William Moss

William Moss From Dig In

We feel like we've won the lottery!! William Moss, host of the HGTV gardening show, 'Dig In' , has graced us with a superb interview. This terrific, energetic man will open our eyes to some exciting ways of gardening where most believe gardening can't be done.

He'll toss out some valuable tips on green gardening and even share his ideas on urban greenways and how they can greatly benefit our cities and our world!

William, we thank you so much for sharing your extremely valuable time. And for that, we are humbled!!

Let's learn!!

1. William, please take a moment and share a little about yourself? Where you've been, what's going on now, and maybe a little about the future.

I'm a fun outgoing guy who loves to be outdoors and active. I'm lucky to have found a way to combine my hobby and talents to make a living.

My career path has been varied and complex.

Began as a 6th grade teacher in the Chicago public school system. And since then youth work has been one of the most fulfilling aspects of my life.

After leaving the Chicago Public School System, I went to the Department of Environment training crews and supervising installations of community school and church gardens.

From there I was hired at the CBG as a horticultural educator to teach courses in gardening and greening. During my time there I also managed youth mentorship programs, wrote curriculum and represented the CBG to various media outlets.

My television career started when I was recruited by the Discovery Channel as the landscape expert for ‘Rally Round the House'. Since then I've worked on TLC's ‘Town Haul' and am currently hosting HGTV's ‘Dig In'. I've also served as a greening expert for various news outlets including CNN, ABC's Good Morning America, the CBS Early Show and various other local networks.

Writing, presenting, and volunteering keep me very busy.

I'm currently gearing up for the gardening season and look forward to trying some new things on my roof deck this year.

I look forward to sharing more of my experiences and helping to further educate people about how they can get involved in gardening and greening on a level that works for them. A team is working to develop a new web site that will feature more of my work in an interactive and fun way. I'll be sure to come back and let you know when I have some updates.

2. Let's say that I'm an individual living in the heart of the city. I have a growing interest in gardening, and maybe even would like to grow some of my own vegetables. Most city dwellers would say, "there's no way"! What would be your response to that?

Window Box Container Garden

Yes way! Not only can you grow veggies in the city but everyone should. All you need is an outdoor space of sunlight (6hrs+). Patios, balconies, rooftops, and small yards are perfect for container gardening. Community gardens are also a good option for urbanites. Most municipalities have public gardens available for rent (usually a nominal fee) during the season. I would encourage new gardeners to join community gardens simply for the community aspect. It's a great chance to learn from more experienced growers.

Container gardeners should always use fresh potting mix. Many experts encourage urban community gardeners grow in raised beds. If there is any concern about contamination, only grow fruits, like tomatoes, peppers, beans, squash, etc. Don't grow veggies (potatoes, celery, onions, bok choy, etc) or herbs.

3. For those who might want to try urban gardening, might you give us a simple design idea for a window box or a planter that we could use on a terrace or balcony?

First-timers need success. An easy colorful, productive container combination is banana pepper, nasturtium, and Asiatic lilies. Blooms from early summer til frost and produces lots of peppers.

Use at least a 12” diameter pot or 20” long window box. The pepper will be available as a seedling; nasturtium is typically sold as seed; and lilies are best planted as bulbs. The peppers will start producing in mid summer as the lilies finish blooming. (Be sure to cut some lily flowers for the house.) Nasturtium leaves and flowers have a peppery taste and can be used in salads. If this pot is started early enough, there may be time to sow a crop of spinach before the pepper is available in the garden centers.

The lilies are perennial and will return faithfully. The nasturtium will set seed and probably volunteer yearly. The pepper is an annual. Next season use bush beans or squash instead of peppers. Develop a 3 year rotation of peppers, beans, and squashes for best yields.

Read a visitor submitted, Urban Garden Tips article here.

4. Some of our readers enjoy Rooftop Gardening. Some would love to start one. Can you teach us some dos and don'ts on this great urban garden method?

Don't use dirt in your containers. Buy potting mixes with lots of organic matter.

Don't plant in a wind tunnel. Avoid placing plants in spaces where wind can damage or topple them.

Do water often as evapotranspiration is extremely high on rooftops in the summer.

Do choose plants suited for container culture. Many veggie, annual, and perennial varieties have been bred for container growing. Check the web ( "Some Like It Hot", "Container Veggie Garden" ) and ask at your garden center.

Do use planter inserts, like Better-Than-Rocks and Upsy Daisy, to reduce the amount of soil mix needed and the container's weight.

Lots more info available in "Up On the Roof"

5. Gardening in a green way can be a new concept to some gardeners. Share with us some simple, yet effective ways, that we all could implement in striving for a greener way of living.

Greenways belong to the community. Take ownership by volunteering to help restore or maintain them. There may be opportunities for wildflower gardening, tree planting, or community gardening. Volunteering is a great way to learn from experienced gardeners and naturalists.

6. Describe to us Urban Greenways, and how they would benefit our city.

Urban greenways have multiple benefits. These large green spaces relieve stress and improve the mood for the surrounding residents. They offer recreation, like hiking and biking. Greenways also function as bio-utilities, which is an especially important feature in environmentally degraded areas, e.g. cities. Plants and bacteria filter the air, water, and soil. They mitigate stormwater runoff and emissions. Factories and other urban industries should have an expansive greenway perimeter to reduce chemical drift and buffer populations from environmental toxins. Ideally greenways should be comprised of native trees and plants, because they are easier to maintain (economical) and beneficial to the local wildlife (ecological). But regardless of the plant selection, urban greenways are a crucial component to the metropolitan landscape aesthetically, environmentally, and ecologically.

7. In closing William, looking at our world with a green state of mind, where has it been...and in what state do you see our world in the future?

It’s hard to judge the past. 50 years ago most people gardened so we were more “green”. However, we supported a lot of environmentally degrading practices (dumping in waterways and public lands, using harsh chemicals, etc) so we where less “green”. It’s a mixed bag.

In the future I hope we take that self-sufficient, gardening spirit from the past and combine it with our new knowledge of the environmental sciences to create green communities and a sense of stewardship. If we are aware of the problems and comprehend the issues, then greenies can begin to influence policy and industry for the better.

Gardeners are going to have to be active in educating the public and greening the land.

Be sure to keep track of all William is doing. Check the HGTV com schedule for his show, 'Dig In' and follow his website Williams Web.

Read a visitor submitted, Urban Garden Tips article here.

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