Difference between soil improver and conditioner?

  • J3diMast3r on Sunday, 3rd February 2008

    The soil in my garden is heavy and clay-like so it needs serious improving.

    I bought a bag of something called soil improver and also a bag of soil conditioner [think the makes are John Innes and Miracle-Gro] ...

    I'm not entirely sure what the difference between the two is, or are they doing the same thing?

    Also, are all these things just different kinds of compost?

  • Message 2. Posted by hereisabee on Sunday, 3rd February 2008 permalink

    Material that is the result of the composting process is called compost, however 'potting compost' is a blend of materials suitable for growing plants in.

    Soil improvers and conditioners could be compost or they could be seaweed products, you will have check the writing on the bag.

    For clay try making raised beds for flowers and vegetables.

  • Message 3. Posted by Dugdeep on Sunday, 3rd February 2008 permalink

    Virtually they are same except they may be made up of different contents - they will do the same job and introduce organic matter into an otherwise barren situation that is clay.
    Ideally and this isn't always practical depending on the size of area,you should dig over in Autumn and leave the clay soil in large clumps over the winter for the frost to break them down then introduce horticultural sharp sand as much as you can afford in early spring then you can add the soil coditioner.B&Q sell an excellent product based on composted bark which is sold as soil conditioner - but if you will need large quantities buy it in bulk its obviously a lot cheaper.
    You still have time to do the above for this year or do a manageable size this year and do the rest over subsequent years.
    The sand will vastly improve the drainage moreso the deeper you dig (double digging)and help break up the clay,the soil improver will help the structure and fertility.
    Hope this is of some use - don't hesitate to reply if needed.Good luck.

  • Message 4. Posted by J3diMast3r on Monday, 4th February 2008 permalink

    Thanks for the good advice, will start digging the main areas over as suggested to let the cold get to the clay, but as you guessed, it's not a huge garden but will have to be done over this year and next.

  • Message 5. Posted by dadallotoman on Monday, 4th February 2008 permalink

    For clay if you can get it, any manure, any basic compost, bags purchased or start your own with a darlek, sand ect as mentioned, every little helps.
    Whilst your digging (double digging is better), you could always add a land drain, directed to the lowest point/nearest drain. land drains available from most good builders merchants ( not the sheds-b&q ect).Hope that helps...PAH

  • Message 6. Posted by londonplantmad on Monday, 4th February 2008 permalink

    I have always lived with London clay. It can be a real pain if it gets compacted down. The garden I am in now was not in good condition when I moved here so I removed most of the plants from the borders then dug them thoroughly. I mixed as many things as possible to break the clay soil up, grit, sand, compost and leaf mould. This improved the soil a great deal. Then I replanted the plants I wanted to keep and added new ones. I had my own compost which i used to mulch the garden every year. I was also careful not to walk on the borders too much in wet weather. Now I have great soil and the plants grow well. Clay is great for holding onto nutrients so once you get it dug and add more goodness it will be fine. It may seem like hard work but once your flowers start blooming you will never want to stop gardening.

  • Message 7. Posted by hereisabee on Monday, 4th February 2008 permalink


  • Message 8. Posted by kandeakay on Monday, 4th February 2008 permalink

    Make sure if you are double digging that you don't incorporate the subsoil into the top soil - dig out the top spit, put aside, then dig the spit below, break up and incorporate manure or compost - then put the top spit back well broken up and with more organic matter added. Hard work but worth it!

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