A pointed critique of Mr. Ashbrook and his radio program

I sometimes contribute to my local NPR radio station. In return, they send me frequent emails to try to entice me to contribute more. Today's email provides what the marketer hopes will be a compelling subject line: Ask Tom Ashbrook your question.

To which my first thought is: "Tom... Ashbrook... why... are you.... an enormous.... tool?"

For those of you who don't live in a broadcasting area which features a full four hours daily of Tom Ashbrook, consider yourself blessed. His stilted pacing and penchant for cutting off his guests with flippant cliches makes for an eye-gougingly annoying 10am-12pm time-slot. Here's an example I just made up (with first line courtesy of today's Economist blog post.)

Expert: ...This approach may mitigate the suffering inflicted by looksism, but it doesn't address the other part of the problem: the degree of discrimination and its cultural roots -

Tom Ashbrook: Six... of one.... half dozen.... of.... the... other..... Tina is calling from Greenville South Carolina... Tina... what's on your mind?

Tina: Hi Tom. I'm a mother of fower boys, and the government jes seems to make such a mess of everything, I cayn't imagine em tellin us where to work er how tall we have to be!

Expert: Tina, I don't think that's at all the intent of this litigation -

Tom Ashbrook: We've got to go to a break. We're talking today about appearance discrimination: have you... broken through... the looking... glass... ceiling? Give us a call at On Point, with Tom Ashbrook.

etc. etc. Then the entire program is repeated from 7 to 9 in the evening. I'll forget this schedule, and mistakenly turn on the radio to accompany a sink full of dishes. Only to my horror, I hear something like:

Early.... to.... bed.... early... to..... rise.... Jenny is calling us from Acton, Massachusetts....

Noooooooooo!

WBUR would do a better job fundraising if they COMPELLED me to go to a dinner with Tom Ashbrook, and then allowed me to make a contribution in order to NOT go. In fact, I'll re-write the email line for them:

Subject line: Forced dinner with Tom Ashbrook or we TP your house.

Body text: Click here to get out of it, AND help pay for news!

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tomato talk

This evening we loaded up, oh, 35 or so baby tomato plants into the trunk of the car and drove off to try and find a place to dump them. Oh wait, not really: we actually had a couple of folks willing to take some of them off our hands. The dumping isn't for a few more weeks. Anyways, it's pretty cool to have moved to the distribution phase in my farming career, even if I haven't yet managed to grow a surplus of actual plants. It turns out there's also a demand for organic and probably blight-free tomato seedlings! Act now if you still want some: there are only three or four dozen remaining!

In other tomato-related news, the upside-down planter fad has made the New York Times. The article is mostly enthusiastic, and it does point out the effect that upside-down growing would have on reducing the ravages of cutworms, that most annoying of early-season garden scourges. But when you get right down to it, there's only one thing you need to know about trying to fight gravity:

Regardless, Mr. Nolan said, "The upside-down planters tend to dry out really fast, so I have to water a lot probably once a day in the heat of the summer."... Many gardeners reported that the thinner, breathable plastic Topsy Turvy planters ($9.99) dried out so quickly that watering even once a day was not enough to prevent desiccated plants.

The result of that thirstiness, around here at least, is that I have never seen an upside-down planter containing a live tomato plant by August. Late summer, when you should be harvesting, it's pretty much all dead sticks all the time. Admittedly, the problem isn't unique to upside-down planters: any container-grown plants will need a whole lot more water than those planted in the ground. But at least when your pots are on the ground you can just spray the lot of them with a hose and feel like you're doing something, and you aren't distracted by believing you've bought an "ingenious tomato planter" that gives you a crop that's "bigger, better tasting, healthier, and easier to grow than ever before."

In short, don't do it. At least, not with my seedlings. If you want any, you're going to have to put them in the good old-fashioned ground.

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