Growing a Good Garden Naturally

Episode 21
Sustainability Book Chat

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If you want to grow a garden that is in sync with nature, then you need to check out Chris McLaughlin’s ninth and newest book, The Good Garden: How to Nurture Pollinators, Soil, Native Wildlife, and Healthy Food — All in Your Own Backyard.

In this episode, Chris and I are talking about several of The Good Garden concepts presented in her book, starting with knowing your ecosystem. We talk about how pollinators and wildlife are your partners in the garden, how to control weeds naturally, and how to keep bad bugs at bay. Then we talk about enlisting the help of domestic critters in your garden, and Chris give examples from her own life with rabbits, chickens, and goats.

Chris McLaughlin’s Other Books

Learn more about Chris


You may check out Angora Goats with Chris McLaughlin, a podcast episode about her beautiful goats.

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Deborah Niemann 0:04
Whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever size your living space, you can do more than you think to lead a greener lifestyle. In the “Sustainability Book Chat,” we are talking to authors and experts about all the different ways that achieving sustainability is within your reach.

Deborah Niemann 0:28
Hello, everyone, and welcome to today’s episode! This is going to be a lot of fun, because we are going to be talking about some awesome gardening tips. We’re joined today by Chris McLaughlin, whose ninth book is hot off the press: The Good Garden: How to Nurture Pollinators, Soil, Native Wildlife, and Healthy Food—All in Your Own Backyard. Welcome to the show today, Chris!

Chris McLaughlin 0:51
Thank you for having me! I’m excited.

Deborah Niemann 0:53
I’m excited to have you here. It’s been… Like, I’ve known you for so long. I think, like, we were both on our third or fourth book when we first met. And so, I’ve seen you, like, write so many awesome books. So, I know this one is just as amazing as the rest of them, and I think it’s a really cool kind of a capstone. Like, it really pulls together so much of the work you’ve done in your other books. So, what was really your motivation to write this particular book?

Chris McLaughlin 1:20
You know, when I first started the whole concept was many years ago. And, I really wanted to produce this now, because I feel like there’s so much great information out there right now on taking care of your environment. At the same time, you want to grow your plants and vegetables and flowers and all that, but, you know, taking care of them in such a way that not only doesn’t hurt your environment, but also replenishes it.

Chris McLaughlin 1:45
But, a lot of these, I don’t wanna say just books, but information that’s out there is super in-depth; it’s really rather complicated. And, I think that what happens is, when people get that information, and they’re fed in such a way that it’s just sort of this overload, and I don’t think anyone knows where to start. I think they’re like, “Well, where…?” As a person who just has a regular garden in my backyard, urban, suburban or otherwise, I think they don’t know where to start. They’re like, “How can I make a difference, like, today? How can I just start doing this in such a healthy way for the soil, and the native wildlife, and yet still produce food, so I get it too?” And, I think that I just wanted something to really explain to people that this is much simpler than you think. And, you don’t have to adopt every concept every time you see one out there. You know, it’s much simpler than that.

Chris McLaughlin 2:37
And, I also wanted to let people know to leave perfection at the garden gate. I think that’s the biggest misconception of the last… I don’t know how many years. You know, 100 years of gardening. I mean, honestly, we’ve gotten to the point where we want everything perfect and manicured, and there can’t be a hole in a leaf or somehow we have failed our garden. And, it’s so not true. It’s really the opposite. You’re becoming part of the ecosystem when that happens. So, you know, there’s ways to do all this and not feel so stressed out about it. So, I wanted to give a lot of different ideas, you know, on that concept, and how you can do things, and you don’t have to be perfect. In fact, imperfection is really what we’re after. And, since we’re all pretty imperfect… You know, it works out pretty well. Anyway, so that was the whole idea of getting this out there.

Deborah Niemann 3:27
Awesome! I love that idea, that you should just embrace your imperfection. One of the big “aha” moments I had was when I visited Monticello, which was Thomas Jefferson’s home. And, I look at places like that, and I’m like, “Oh, the garden! This is so beautiful! I want a garden like this…” And, I took so many pictures. And then, I did the garden tour, and I learned that they have, like, 50 staff members.

Chris McLaughlin 3:56

Deborah Niemann 3:56
And I was like, “Oh, my goodness! No wonder it was so perfect!”

Chris McLaughlin 4:02
Yeah, that is so true. That’s so true. And, you know, I had to figure that out over and over again. Like, honestly, I’ve never been there. I wish I had, just because, yay, that would be gorgeous! But, I’ve been to other places that I think, “Oh!” The same thing. And then, I figured out the staff and everything… But then, I would kind of forget that. And, my image was still like, “Oh!” And, it isn’t that you shouldn’t have certain things. Like, so you have these beautiful little hedges that are perfectly shaped. That’s wonderful. Nothing wrong with that. But, you realize if you let those hedges actually grow, and they produce that little bloom, that you’re gonna get the native bees and the pollinators. So, when we cut those things off, you know, it is lovely. It is very manicured. And that can be beautiful, too. Nothing wrong with it. But, maybe leaving a couple of those hedges in different spots to actually produce what they’re supposed to produce, so that, you know, we can keep things going and healthy and invite those pollinators in for our other plants.

Chris McLaughlin 5:01
And so, I started to realize that we call those shaped things “perfection.” And maybe, like, on some Instagram level it is, but, you know, it isn’t perfection when you’re talking about both sustaining, you know, your food that you want to grow, as well as the ecosystem and the wildlife around you. Maybe that perfection kind of falls a little short of what you really want to have happen. So, I think, like, you know, like I said, these beautiful, manicured things are terrific. And, I wouldn’t say, “Don’t ever have a beautiful hedge,” but maybe also let a couple of things go a little bit wild like they should. So, that’s really what it’s about. But, it’s so true about people having so much, you know, help to perfect those things and have the public in. It’s amazing, the work they do.

Deborah Niemann 5:01
Exactly, yeah. There’s no way I can make my place look like, you know, a place that has 50 gardeners on staff. That’s just nuts. So, you’re totally setting yourself up for failure.

Chris McLaughlin 6:00
You are! You are. And, you know, as far as, like, those photos—oh, gosh. We gotta talk about the photos. So, you’re on Instagram, and you’re seeing these amazing, not just gardens, but plants, and things that are producing, and all that kind of thing. And these tomatoes! Oh, my gosh. Lovely tomatoes, right? And, they’re perfect. And, what you don’t see—because they’re showing you a point of view. Point of view is everything, right? So, they’ve got these gorgeous tomatoes, and they’re not showing that over here, there’s a bunch of them that the bugs have gotten to, and someone’s chicken flew in and pecked them to death—that’s the problem I have. And, you know, you’re not seeing those, because I’ve only picked the ones that are stunning in this beautiful photo, and that’s what you’re seeing.

Chris McLaughlin 6:41
And, I just want people to realize, when you’re looking at Instagram, or Facebook, or you know, any of these social media things. I mean TikTok might do a good… You know, a lot of people are live in their garden. So, you might see a little more of what’s really, truly going on. But, you know, when people take these beautiful photos— They’re wonderful. Keep taking them. It’s great. But remember, it’s point of view. It’s 100% how they angle that. And, I could prove that over and over in my garden. I can show you. You’d be like, “Wow, Chris must have it all going on.” Yeah, no, there’s a bunch of dead stuff over there. So, the realism. You know, these are living things, right? I mean, come on, you know? So, they don’t always stay perfect. So, I really want people to realize that when they’re seeing those images, they are taking those images with all full makeup on, you know? It’s all fully there, beautified for your viewing pleasure.

Deborah Niemann 7:31
Yeah, exactly. I mean, unless you’re complaining, and you want sympathy from people, you are not going to post the picture of, you know, the pepper that got eaten by the rabbit or whatever. You’re gonna post the perfect fruits and vegetables.

Chris McLaughlin 7:48
That’s so true. Yeah.

Deborah Niemann 7:49
So, one of the things that you talk about early in the book is getting to know your ecosystem. And, if somebody’s kind of new to gardening, they might wonder, “What on earth does that mean?”

Chris McLaughlin 7:59
Right. Well, you know, I like to explain to people… Now, I’m a real rebel when it comes to planting things. Someone will say to me, “Oh, that doesn’t do well in your growing zone.” And I’ll be like, “Oh… Challenge accepted, son.” That said, if you’re new to gardening, you know, first of all, look around in your nurseries. Predominantly, in the nurseries—not always, but predominantly—they’re bringing in plants that thrive in your area. And so, you’re going to be more successful with things that they’re bringing, because they’re doing it on purpose, because they know what will work there. Texas doesn’t have a lot of dahlias hanging out in their nurseries, because they don’t do well there. Not that someone there can’t grow them. We’re in California. You know, we have a lot of the herbs and the things that would be Mediterranean-style. Just things that like it more dry. There’s a lot of that hanging around rather than New England stuff, right? Where it’s, you know, you’re gonna get some rain, like even during the summer. I laugh, “What are you talking about, rain in the summer?” I don’t even know what people mean by this. So, look at what your neighbors have growing that you admire. You know, go into your nurseries and stuff and ask them. And, if you’re just starting, always start from a place where the plants in your area are thriving and doing well.

Chris McLaughlin 9:09
One thing I battle with all the time is the hydrangeas. I mean, I love them. I love them so much. And, if you look at a gardening book, they generally say, “Grow them in full sun.” You know? Like, Are you kidding? If you put them in a full sun in California? No way on God’s green Earth do you have a hydrangea in full sun. There’s no way; they would fry here. So, what I always do is, I give them, like, a little morning sun, and the rest is shade—they do great. So, you’re battling that, and as a new gardener, you wouldn’t want to battle that. Why would you do that? People say they’re, “Oh, I’m not a green thumb. I’m a black thumb.” No, you’re not. No, you’re not. You’re just choosing the wrong plant and perhaps putting it in the wrong spot.

Chris McLaughlin 9:50
But, you know, the biggest secret I tell people— No one ever talks about this. I know it’s really simple, and kind of seems really weird and dumb, but the fact is, plants want to grow. Okay? Their genetic code is to reproduce themselves over and over. And, they try very hard. You know, you’re looking at those plants growing in the cracks of a sidewalk, you know? They try very, very hard to grow. And so, you’ll even see plants reaching for the sun, they’re kind of in the shade, everything’s going out towards the sun… They’re not dead. They don’t look, maybe, the way they should, because they’re reaching in a funny direction, but they want to grow. So, if you just get it halfway right, usually it works. I mean, it may not be exactly what your thought was. But, if you’re just halfway right, it usually works.

Chris McLaughlin 10:38
So, you know, just finding out what thrives in your area? That’s the first thing. Just find that out, and plant some of those, and you will be successful. And then, you move on from there to things that maybe you’re going to do something that has a harder time, but you can, you know, maneuver the microclimate for that or something.

Deborah Niemann 10:56
Yeah, exactly. I know in Illinois, I’ve tried so hard to grow peaches—which is a tree. And, I thought, “Oh, but they have peaches in Michigan,” not realizing that that’s along the lake, which is, like, its own little warm microclimate.

Chris McLaughlin 11:15
It’s own microclimate! Yes. Yes.

Deborah Niemann 11:18
And so, for years, I struggled with planning peach trees that would not survive for more than two or three years. And then, by that point, I knew more about gardening, and I’m like, “Oh, those Michigan… Oh. I get it.”

Chris McLaughlin 11:33
No, it’s so true. It’s like, you know—and even, like, your ecosystem in terms of… You know, I believe I talk about knowing, also, the native pollinators in your area. You know, we have so many native bees in North America. I mean, it goes way beyond, you know, the honeybees. As many people know, some people may not know, that honeybees are not native to North America at all. They’re all European bees. So, we don’t have native bees that produce honey that we can capture and do all that. We don’t have that. But, the point being that, the most things that pollinate our things for food and everything else is really our native pollinators.

Chris McLaughlin 12:09
So, if you just do some quick research on that for your area: What are some native pollinators in your area, that love the plants that naturally grow there? And, on purpose plant for them. On purpose plant for that particular sweat bee, or something that is prevalent in your area, and you’re like, “Oh, I know they like these plants,” and get those in. And, that’s going to help your garden grow, all your food and veggies, and whatever else. So, that’s, like, a whole part of your whole ecosystem.

Chris McLaughlin 12:35
And, the same with the birds in your area. You start bringing in those, you know, birds that are… Putting out nests for blue birds or chickadees. These are all fly catchers. So, they’re gonna be out there eating your mosquitoes and stuff, right? So, like, a natural way to help keep some of the things out you don’t want there. And so, you want to call those birds in. And, maybe you don’t have that in your area; it’s something else. So, you’re gonna find your ecosystem, what birds are prevalent in your area, and try to coax them to your yard. So, there’s a whole little study you can do for yourself on, what is your ecosystem about? And, how can you help that? Which will, in turn, help you hundredfold.

Deborah Niemann 13:11
Yeah. That sounds wonderful. So, welcoming pollinators and wildlife and stuff into your yard, it is part of this whole ecosystem, which is so cool. So, you get your ecosystem going there with, like, all the different plants and animals that work together. So, you got that part working good for you. But then, like, one of the big challenges for a lot of people becomes weeds. And, one of my things is: Change your perspective.

Chris McLaughlin 13:39
Well, first of all, okay, let’s start with… I know. This is not going to be popular, okay?

Deborah Niemann 13:44

Chris McLaughlin 13:45
But, some of those weeds, they’re native. Some are not. Some are just invasive species, I get that. We’re gonna talk about the native ones. There are some weeds that just come up,that we don’t really want them; they’re not useful for us. They’re sort of competing with a plant that we like. We don’t want this one there. But, the end result of that might be that it is actually supporting some of your native wildlife. So, some of these weeds might not be so bad, depending on which weeds they are. You know, foxtails. The bane of my existence are foxtails. So, I’m trying to think. I’m pretty sure that’s not native anyway. But, the point being, a weed produces so quickly that it gets out of control.

Chris McLaughlin 14:25
One of the things that I do… Like, if I do a new garden bed, and I’m gonna plant some vegetables, I will do something called “pre-sprouting.” And, it’s kind of a preemptive strike against these guys. So, it’s feeling like, “‘Come into my parlor,’ said the spider to the fly.” So, what I do is, I get everything set up. And, in the early spring, I let those weeds come up. And then, I knock them down. And so, a bunch of those weeds that were gonna come up, I knocked down. I can also do it again. I can also knock them down, and let that happen again, then knock them down again. And right then, I’ve already done very preemptive stuff for that. There’s also solarization, things where you’re laying down plastics and stuff as they come up, and they fry underneath that. So, and that’s all before you plant your plants.

Chris McLaughlin 15:11
You know, there’s just all these different techniques that you can try that keep things down to a really dull roar. And also, when you intensely plant, you’ve got to watch where you live, because if you’re high-humidity, I would never suggest planting, say, tomato plants too close together. You’re gonna get a lot of powdery mildew and things like that that are gonna come from that. But, kind of look at where you’re at. But, a lot of things—even though your seed packet says, “Plant them 12 inches apart.” Like, you know, almost everything can be planted much closer than that. And, once those leaves start to come over and grow, they shelter that soil for more seeds growing up and trying to reach the sun, so that keeps a lot of things from growing.

Chris McLaughlin 15:54
And, that’s why we also do no-till. I mean, aside from, when you till, you destroy the aggregates in the soil that are trying to work together to create a great microbe situation. But also, the biggest thing that you can see with your own eyes is that when you till, you bring up so many weed seeds, it will blow your mind. I mean, you’d be like, “What happened? I’ve never had those weeds there in my life.” They were all dormant and underground, and you brought them up to the light of day. So, that’s a lot of, like, just build up. Add your compost and things. Build up. You know, we have tilled if there’s a really great reason. If there’s a super hard pan, or super tough weeds, we’ll do a light till right at the top. We don’t go very deep, just enough to get those deep weeds out or loosen up that hard pan. But then, we are loading up with compost and organic matter, and that will never be tilled again. That would be the only time we’d slightly do that. And then, we build up just to give us a leg up a little bit. But, we did also probably bring up some weed seeds.

Chris McLaughlin 17:00
So, there’s a lot of different techniques you can try that will surprise you, you know? Especially if you make a little bed and plant intensely, you’d be surprised how much less weeds you actually really have.

Deborah Niemann 17:12
Some people were probably thinking that, when you said a minute ago to “knock down” the weeds when they first come up, “Oh, take the tiller to it.” So, when you say “knock down” the weeds when they first come up, what are you talking about if not tilling?

Chris McLaughlin 17:29
Okay. So, we actually usually use, I think it’s called a “stirrup hoe.”

Deborah Niemann 17:34
Ooh, yay!

Chris McLaughlin 17:36
But, we call it “the hoe of death.” You know, those things work really well. And, when those little tiny things are up, it is so great to just go and just slide it over them, and it either knocks them in half or rips them right up by the root. It is so much fun. .

Deborah Niemann 17:52
Love that thing.

Chris McLaughlin 17:54
Oh yes, I love this thing so much. And, you know, they have the little handheld stirrup. So, maybe you have, like, a raised bed, and you’re down there planting; get your little handheld stirrup hoe. It rips them right out. It truly does.

Chris McLaughlin 18:05
The deeper ones, I use a hori hori, which is like a fantastic knife. I mean, it’s got measurements on it, if you’re digging holes for something. It’s got a serrated side, a flat side, a little hook on this side for if you happen to be adding a bed of organic compost; it’ll rip that right open. Those are super great to have on your side. But, they get those deeply rooted things out like, you know—ooh. Also, one of my favorites that I discovered a few years ago; I just never thought it would work like this. They’re the Japanese hoe. They’re, like, this little Japanese hoe, and it’s this handheld side thing, and I’m telling you, when you whack on a weed, it rips it out like nobody’s business. I love this thing.

Chris McLaughlin 18:45
But, you know, once you start to do that, the next years, the following years, you’re getting less and less and less. I mean, it’s really true. The more you’re caring for that, and we’re taking those things out before they bloom—that’s another big key. You don’t want the weeds to bloom and then produce their seeds, and now you’re just kind of battling this nutty situation. Although, some weeds will grow by runners and stuff, still, making sure those things don’t ever get to bloom or go to seed is super important.

Deborah Niemann 19:16
Yeah, exactly.

Deborah Niemann 19:17
So, the other thing for a lot of people who, you know, really want to do things all naturally and organically and everything, and then they’re tempted to reach for the bug spray. You’ve got a whole chapter on keeping the bad bugs at bay.

Chris McLaughlin 19:36
I do. Yeah, I do. I have a whole chapter on that. And, there’s lots of different ways to do this. But, one thing I do focus on is kind of, like, what we were talking about before: What is the damage, and what is the damage, right? I mean, if you get this locust thing, the biblical stuff, you know, that comes in and wipes out your entire thing, that’s real damage. I mean, you’re really concerned about this. But, you know, when you get, like, oh my goodness, you have all these tomato plants, and you get a… What am I thinking of? A tomato worm—

Deborah Niemann 20:08
A hornworm.

Chris McLaughlin 20:09
Yeah! And, it comes up, and it annihilates one plant, and you go, “What…?” I mean, really? Sacrifice the plant. And, if they jumped to another leaf—say a butterfly, you know, had landed on another plant. Then pick those off. You can throw them to your chickens—if you have chickens. You can drown it, or do whatever. But, the point is just that to sacrifice the one plant in order not to use pesticides? Blows my mind why that isn’t an okay thing to do.

Chris McLaughlin 20:37
You know, the other thing is—so taking it even a step further. That little hornworm, if anybody wants to look that up, depending on the species of hornworm, these are either sphinx moths, hummingbird moths, hawk moths. Those guys are night pollinators that actually pollinate certain plants that flower only in the nighttime. So, they’re actually pollinators, and they actually do do some good in the world. In fact, some nighttime pollinators—not specifically that one, but some of them—you know, pollinate some cacti and stuff. They’re the only things that do pollinate it; there isn’t anything else that does. So, I’m just saying, like, watching what you’re actually trying to kill. It’s like, I get it. You want these tomato plants, so maybe be sacrificing a few is okay.

Chris McLaughlin 21:24
And then, you know, the other thing is, you want to invite those birds into the ecosystem to eat caterpillars. Like, you know, the oak tree. We have these tent oak tree caterpillars. Oh, my gosh. They’re such a mess. And, we let the birds come in and eat them. That’s bird food. So are those guys. That’s bird food. So, when you annihilate anything you consider a pest, you just wipe them all out, you also mess with the ecosystem, because now the birds coming in have nothing to eat. I don’t know why they would hang around your yard and garden if you’ve taken away their food source. So, you really kind of mess with that.

Chris McLaughlin 22:02
But that said, we still want our veggies. And, we still want our things. With some of these things, we can lay—like over lettuces, while they’re young and tender—we can lay these little floating row covers, you know, to keep things from eating them and things like that. There’s lots of things to try and do. But really, I think the biggest takeaway is remembering that there’s a reason they’re in that circle and that ecosystem. So, the idea is to get a balance as opposed to eliminate. We don’t need to wipe out anything; we just need to make it so that everyone’s happy. The birds are getting what they need, those critters are growing up into moths and pollinating things, but we’re still getting our food, too.

Chris McLaughlin 22:41
That was kind of, like, the whole concept of the book was, you know, to make us happy and make the ecosystem also happy and thrive, as well. That’s kind of the idea. So yeah, for me, like, the biggest thing you can do right now, today, is stop using pesticides. You know, you don’t need to do that. And, it will end up balancing out. Gotta have a little patience, of course. And we don’t like that, right? We’re living in a world of Amazon Prime, right? We want it tomorrow, you know? And, I know that spraying pesticides, they knock things down, you get to see them dead, you’re cheering and all that. But, it really isn’t, in the long run, the healthiest thing to do, you know? And getting rid of, of course, those natural predators that you might get that would come in and feast on those? Now you’re only making it worse, in reality. Because now, when the bad guys come back, you don’t have a lot of the good guys, because you didn’t provide for them. So, now you’re getting overtaken even more. Now you’re spraying more pesticides. So, it’s this vicious circle. Anyway. Soapbox time. Sorry.

Deborah Niemann 23:42
Yeah. No, totally. I understand what you’re talking about.

Deborah Niemann 23:45
So, another thing I think is really cool about your book is that you’ve got a chapter called “Enlist Domestic Critters.” And, I think pretty much all of my listeners either have livestock, or they’re planning to get livestock, and that’s why they’re listening. So, can you go ahead and talk a little bit about some of your tips on how to bring animals into the picture?

Chris McLaughlin 24:08
Yeah. Well, most people are aware, like, with chicken manure. That’s kind of a common thing sometimes you’ll see, you know, at a nursery or a big box store. And, of course, that chicken manure there has been aged and is ready to put in the garden. So, if you have chickens, you do want to age that manure, like, six months. I mean, it’s the best way to really make sure that the high nitrogen in that manure is not going to burn your brand-new little plants. But, it’s wonderful for compost. You can just, instead of aging the manure specifically on its own, you can throw it in the compost pile.

Chris McLaughlin 24:40
But, you know, I’m telling you, my favorite, favorite compost “activator”—if you will—and also just to put on my plants as a manure, is the rabbit manure. Like, honestly, this stuff doesn’t burn plants. You don’t need to age it. I love to put it the compost pile, because it literally helps break down things so quickly. So, I prefer it that way. Also, I have to throw in there, because, like, it’d be irresponsible not to. Anything that’s an animal manure, honestly, I have to say, if you’re gonna put it on food sources, something that’s growing, something you’re going to eat, you are going to want to compost it. Do what you will. But, composting is always the best, because there is things in there that can make us ill and things like that if you didn’t wash the food correctly or something, so we like to do that. But also, goat manure? Oh, my gosh. We gather up our goat manure, and we make its own compost pile. We add… Like, we have straw, you know, because of the bedding and all that. That all breaks down; it becomes compost. But, it’s like this eternal source of this.

Chris McLaughlin 25:41
And then, also, as you’re growing things from that manure in your beds, you can feed some of this stuff to your animals—especially like herbs and things. I mean, you don’t want to overdo it, obviously—with rabbits, especially, because they need to have a little bit less of that. But still, it’s something that goes full circle. They’re giving you the manure, and then as you grow things, you’re giving a little bit of that, and they’re in turn giving you that manure again. It’s a great circle. And, with the goats, it’s fabulous. I mean, it’s just… You know, we don’t grow our own hay here or anything; we don’t have enough acreage. But, at the same time, we do give them other things that we’ve grown: carrots and pumpkins and watermelons and things, and chop them up there a bit. They love it.

Chris McLaughlin 26:22
But, I feel like the animals that we have sometimes just as pets… You know, you might have a couple of goats, maybe. Or, maybe you have a rabbit or two. Your kids have rabbits. That manure is a great resource. As is the chicken manure. The chickens are giving you eggs, and you might be giving them herbs to help their health and all that, and then they’re giving you that manure back.

Chris McLaughlin 26:43
So, all of these things, you can enlist that to help create a good garden and create good soil, which in turn gives you healthy plants. And, healthy plants help ward off the bad guys. I mean, when you have a healthy plant, it can battle. I mean, a couple of leaves will be gone, or here and there, but it’ll be able to help battle disease and other things that are trying to take it down. So, it’s all a great circle if you, you know, just put your mind to thinking about how that works.

Deborah Niemann 27:12
This has been so much fun! And, this is just the beginning. You know, there’s also chapters in here about keeping your soil healthy, and more about growing food and everything, so there’s lots of really great info in here. And, if people want to find you online, where would they look?

Chris McLaughlin 27:30
Well, my farm website is So, you can find me there. I’m all over social media, probably. You can probably find me anywhere under @LaughingCrowCo, I think. I think that’s where I am. You will find me, because I usually use that handle. So, on Instagram and Facebook, it may just be @ChrisMcLaughlin. I’m trying to remember… But anyway, you’ll be able to find me at those places.

Deborah Niemann 27:53
Awesome! Well, thank you so much for joining us today. And, I hope the book does really well.

Chris McLaughlin 27:58
Thank you so much! I appreciate it.

Deborah Niemann 28:00
And that’s it for today’s episode. You can find show notes at, as well as a transcript. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any future episodes. You can also find Thrifty Homesteader on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. See you next week on “Sustainability Book Chat.”

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