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Tuesday, February 7, 2012



I like talk radio.  I don’t know why, but the listeners usually crack me up.  One of my favorite shows was Sunday morning, Ralph Snodsmith’s    “The Garden Hotline”.   
Ralph passed away last year at age 70 after 35 years on the radio.  Ralph knew everything about plants, and was always super nice to his callers, no matter how annoying they might be.

Ralph’s callers (almost all were lonely little old ladies) wanted to either brag about their plants, or try to stump Ralph.

“Good morning, garden hotline, how may I help you?”

“Yes Ralph its Ruth from Scotch Plains.  I have the most beautiful flowers in my front yard they bloom every spring.  Can you tell me what they are?”

“Well, can you describe them to me?”

“Yes, they have one big cup like flower on an eight inch stem.  They come up every April and stay for about three weeks.  They are just beautiful, what do you think they are?”

“They sound a lot like a Tulip.”

“Really, you think they are Tulips?  Are Tulips beautiful?”

“Oh yes, quite beautiful.”

“What should I do for them?”

“Nothing, just enjoy them, all they ever need is one feeding of a 6 12 24 fertilizer.  Just follow the manufacturer’s label.”

“Thank you Ralph and they are really beautiful.”

“You’re welcome.”  “Next on the Garden Hotline is Amy from Summit.”

“Ralph I have some Hydrangeas which are not doing well.  I’ve had them for years, but this year they just look droopy.”

“Hmmm, droopy, do they get enough water?  Hydrangeas need a good drink at least every other day.”

“Oh yes, I know.  They get plenty of water.”

“Do they get bright filtered light?”

“Oh yes, absolutely.”

“Are you feeding them a 2 4 6 fertilizer?”

“Yes, and I follow the directions on the manufacturer’s label.”

“Is there any sign of infestation?”

“No, and I spray them with diluted lemon juice just in case. They are still droopy; I think they are going to die.”

At this point I know Ralph just wants to scream, “Then just dig that fucker up and plant something else cause that puppy is going to die and there ain’t nothing you can do about it!”

Instead Ralph has his pat out.  “You need to bring a sample to your local garden center for an analysis to see what you can do to fix her up.”

Sometimes Ralph outsmarts these lonely ladies who only want some radio company.

“Garden Hotline, how can I help you?”

“Yes Ralph, Peggy from Oakdale. I have some tomato plants which are just not doing well, and I have just tried everything.”

“Well, have you been giving them plenty of water every day?”

“Oh yes Ralph every day.”

“Well then, that’s your problem…GOTCHA...Tomatoes don’t need that much water, your drowning them.”

"Oh…..Ralph how about carrots, I have..”

“And that’s all the time we have today on The Hotline, keep gardening, and don’t forget to follow the directions on the manufacturer’s label.”

I’m gonna miss you Ralph, no one else could make plants and little old ladies interesting!

Yesterday's post "Blog Award" listed my oldest child as being 41.  She is in fact only 40.  Apologies to my first born.


  1. It sounds like Ralph will be missed. What do you know about plants? Maybe you can take his place. :-)

  2. I can "hear" his show just in the way you wrote that. Wow, so great. Yes, he truly did have a gift.

  3. My mom used to try to get me to call a gardening hotline since I kill anything I touch if it's inside my house. Oddly I could plant a ceramic pumpkin in the backyard and have a patch of the things in six months. I told my husband I think we built our house on some old fertility ritual site. Ralph definitely had so much more patience than I do for sure!

  4. Sounds like he would have really enjoyed your candor!
    Too bad you never called in regarding cactus or nettle problems!
    Did Mrs. Cranky ever phone in? (If not, good! You have no reason to worry! hahaha)