Improve the Structure of the Soil Using Volcanic Rock Dust and Leaf Mold

Leaf Pile

Typical of this time of year, it is raining buckets here in the Pacific Northwest—and as the rain comes down, so do the leaves from the trees.

As tempting as it is to stay inside (and drink mugs of hot tea all day long!), there is still plenty of work to be done in the yard and garden. A thorough fall cleanup, along with basic soil preparation, will help ensure a vibrant and healthy garden in the spring.

Start by cutting back and cleaning up dead foliage and removing weeds and other debris where insects and diseases might try to overwinter. After removing spent annuals from your vegetable and flower beds, apply an all-natural rock dust by lightly raking it into any exposed areas of soil (follow the product directions for suggested application rates).

The fall, especially, is an excellent time to apply volcanic rock dust as it replaces minerals and trace elements that have been depleted during the busy growing season and which are essential to plant and human health. Look for an all-natural product that is made of ground volcanic basalt which is a superior source of silicon-based minerals and nutrients. Silicon improves plant structure and stress tolerance and helps grow plants that are stronger, healthier and more productive.

As for the leaves swirling through the air and landing on your lawn, don’t just cart them to the curb. Put them to work! You have to rake them anyway, so why not rake them into a corner of your yard where they can slowly decompose? The finished product is called leaf mold and it is an excellent soil builder that also helps support beneficial microbes in the soil.

To speed things along, you can shred the leaves into smaller pieces with a lawn mower and place them into a container, or cage, made of wooden stakes and chicken wire. If the leaves are dry, make sure that you moisten them thoroughly. You should also turn the pile occasionally to facilitate the decomposition process. What you’ll eventually get is moisture-retaining mulch that will protect your plants from next summer’s withering heat.

Still have more leaves to get rid of? If you are planning to put out mulch to protect perennials from the winter frost, wait until daytime temperatures drop below 50 degrees. By mulching too early in the season, you block the heat that is necessary for root development (the roots of most plants keep growing until soil temperatures dip below 45 degrees).

The good news is that the time and energy that you put into the soil this fall will pay big dividends next year, in the form of healthier plants that require less work.


Cascade Minerals Remineralizing Soil Booster is an all-natural soil amendment made from massive basalt stones from Central Oregon’s Cascade Mountains. Rocks are crushed to produce a finely milled, 100% natural product that is approved for organic production and releases the essential minerals and trace elements that plants and humans need to flourish. More at