When someone talks about 'soil conditioners' they are talking about what you can mix into your garden to improve the quality. Mixing in these conditioners is easy and needs be done in either Spring before planting or Autumn to prepare the ground for next year. In can also be done in the Summer for a boost of nutrients and texture in the soil.
How to improve soil:
1. Water the garden area well and let dry a couple of days before digging. (This step is for new beds.)
2. Run a rotary hoe or use a garden fork to turn the soil over.
3. Add the soil conditioners. If using more than one type layer them as evenly as possible.
4. Run the rotary hoe or use a garden fork to mix in the conditioners.
5. Use a rake to smooth over the surface, then water the ground thoroughly.
Types of Soil Conditioners To Use:
Compost. Use this to add nutrients into the soil and improve its texture. The amount and kind of nutrients will depend on what was put in the compost.
Composted Manure. This will increase the nitrogen levels as well as improve drainage and moisture retention.
Builder's Sand. This is natural sand that is a little bigger than what you find at the beach. This will improve drainage and loosen the soil, however, do not add to clay soil.
Peat Moss. It will loosen heavy, hard soil and increase the ability to maintain moisture.
Limestone. It contains calcium and magnesium; use only if a soil test recommends it. This will also lower acid levels.
Sawdust & Ground Wood. Wood chips will improve soil texture and drainage.
Leaf Mold. It will increase the levels of nitrogen and potassium. Other nutrients will be slow released acting like a long lasting fertilizer.