Volcanoes can cause damage and destruction, but in the long term these natural wonders are a great benefit to the landscape. One positive side of volcanoes is the way they create rich, fertile soil.
Over billions of years, the chemical soil breakdown caused by volcanic eruptions has resulted in some of the most fertile soil on earth. The earliest civilizations often settled and worked farmland in the shadows of great volcanoes in the Mediterranean region. Some of Asia’s most productive rice fields are located near active volcanoes, and even here in the U.S., much of the farmland in the Pacific Northwest is situated around volcanic areas.
If you don’t want to relocate to an area with past or present volcanic activity to get these benefits in your own garden, soil amendments from volcanoes are the answer. Volcanic ash contains nutrients and elements essential to plant growth, and it can also help the soil hold more water and insulate plants from temperature changes. Lava sand can increase soil mineral content and improve drainage. Both of these amendments are typically available at garden supply stores. Just add to your soil as you would other soil amendments and reap the benefits of volcanoes!