Tips for Mulching Your Garden: 3 Natural, Free Options

The first layer of grass mulch in the garden.
It's finally gardening season in the Midwest. I'm hoping last week was our final frost warning and it's safe to put a few veggies into the ground today.

For the last three years I've explored natural ways to keep weeds at bay and make tending to my garden less of a chore. I want to pick vegetables, not pluck weeds.

So far I've figured out three natural things that work great as mulch.

What is mulch? It's a protective barrier that keeps weeds to minimum, often times provides nutrients to the soil and helps keep moisture in the ground to nourish plants during dry weather.

3 Types of Free, Natural Mulch for Your Garden


Newspaper: The first year I decided to forgo weed barrier paper, I used old newspaper instead. I soaked each sheet in a bucket of water and carefully tiled the garden with the newsprint. Then I cut holes in the paper where I wanted to plant my seedlings.

Since the newspaper is biodegradable and printed with soy inks, it's eco-friendly and eventually disintegrated into the soil. There was one drawback though: wind. I ended up using a layer of grass cuttings and a few stepping stones over the newspaper to keep it in place.

Fall Leaves: Two years ago we ran out of leaf bags and decided to pile the dry fallen leaves in the garden. We planned to later bag them for curbside collection, but that never got done.

They surprisingly broke down over the winter from the weight of snow and created a nice 6-inch layer of mulch around my plants. Some weeds still popped through but over all, I'd say this natural mulch kept my garden 75 percent weed-free.

Grass Cuttings: Last year I decided to try using fresh cut grass clippings as a mulch. Much like the leaves, it works great, and that's what I'm using this summer.

However, after it rains, the grass gets clumpy and has a bit of an odor. And after awhile, the nice green color turns boring gray. But, it still works well to keep weeds to a minimum.

Do you know how to mulch your garden with other natural products? Or, do you use old newspaper, leaves or grass? Please share your tips an ideas in the comments below.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

In A Recipe Rut

I'm addicted to Pinterest.

I have so many food boards brimming with recipes I want to try. But, I have to be honest (and I know I'm not alone), I pin, pin, pin but never cook, cook, cook.

Well, that has to end.

So many pins, so little time! Screenshot from Pinterest.
I'm in a recipe rut, and it's time to try some new meals. The hubby and I eat the same 10 meals over and over, with variations of course, but it's still getting boring.

With the farmer's market in full swing, an obnoxious amount of recipes saved on Pinterest and a dining room bookcase devoted to cookbooks, it's time to get busy and break out of this recipe rut.

So, how do you stay motivated to cook new meals after a long day of work when your energy and time is waning? I'd love some tips!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Opening Week at the Farmer's Market

Photo by Angela Tague
I've been waiting all winter. The farmer's market is open!

Day one was soggy and slow. But, a sunny second day brought out flocks of people and tons of fresh produce, plants for the garden and even a face-painting booth.

So, what's in season in May in the Midwest?

You'll find lots of fresh greens including kale, arugula and several varieties of lettuce. I also spied multiple vendors with green and purple asparagus. The rhubarb was plentiful and if you love kohlrabi, radishes and turnips, there were no shortages of root vegetables on the tables.

At my local market there are also several non-food vendors. Today I saw a face-painting booth, a musician singing, a wood crafter selling cutting boards, a local winery offering samples and a jewelry maker displaying one-of-a-kind necklaces. You never know what you'll find at the market!

Do you shop at a local farmer's market? Why or why not? Tell me in the comments below.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

My Las Vegas Jackpot Moment: Homemade Ice Cream

I hit the big one in Vegas, baby!!

I found a place that makes homemade ice cream while you wait. I'm not into gambling, so for me, indulging in a bowl of made-from-scratch mango ice cream while strolling down the Las Vegas strip was like hitting the jackpot.

Homemade mango ice cream! Photos by Angela Tague
During my random wanderings I stopped by a little shop in the Harrah's Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. If you're ever in the area, look up IcePan.

They custom make a variety of fruit-flavored ice creams. They also create classic chocolate and vanilla treats and whip up more exotic flavors including green tea and red bean.

I watched the ice cream artist chop a fresh mango, puree the fruit and combine it with soy milk. That's it! Two ingredients!

Then he poured the smoothie-type liquid onto a freezing cold platform and worked his magic. He used two paddles to scoop, fold and mash the mixture until it turned into ice cream.

So, how was it? Creamy. Rich. Decadent.

It was simply amazing. If I'm ever in Las Vegas again, I'll be back for round two, three and four of this healthy whole foods dessert!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living