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grit in the U.S.?

Hello, every time I ask for grit at nursery centers I get blank stares, even when I describe it as bigger than sand, smaller than pea gravel. Is there another name for what I am looking for here in the U.S.? And/or, suggestions for what to use to lighten up my very heavy New England clay soil that is not perlite or vermiculite? I add lots of organic matter, of course, but I don't produce enough kitchen waste to have a good source of compost. Many thanks for any ideas!


  • KiliKili Posts: 999
    Sharp sand is a very small grit. Maybe ask for that

    'The power of accurate observation .... is commonly called cynicism by those that have not got it.

    George Bernard Shaw'

  • herbaceousherbaceous E. BerksPosts: 2,278
    "The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it."  Sir Terry Pratchett
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 9,679
    edited May 2021
    I think it's often referred to as poultry grit in the US.
    Aquarium gravel would be available from pet shops and a fine/medium aquarium gravel will do the job too, but more expensive I'd imagine.

    PS - I'm in Essex renowned for its Essex clay.
    I've found the best thing to use is composted bark - it's worked a treat for me, and a LOT lighter than grit

    From the RHS
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • Thank you! Poultry grit is usually ground oyster shell, not great as a soil amendment. It encourages molds and adds too much calcium. Composted bark is a great idea, Pete--I use it as top dressing, but not too much because it uses up the N in soils as it decomposes. It is also stupidly expensive here, I don't know why. We sure have lots of it in New England! 
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 9,679
    Aquarium gravel is the only other thing I can think of.
    I had heavily planted tropical fish tanks for many years and the gravel I used was almost identical to horticultural grit.
    Lots of other organic matter - rotted manures with straw would help a lot.
    Mushroom compost is very good for breaking down clay, but tends to be slightly alkaline.

    Yes, you're not short of trees in New England :) I paid £240 for 3000L composted bark recently
    Hope you manage to get it sorted
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • many thanks!
  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen Spain.Posts: 6,316
    Uncomposted wood chip or bark will temporarily deplete nitrogen levels in the soil during decomposition but ultimately returns it, but if it is properly composted that should be fine. Like Pete, I use composted pine bark extensively to lighten my alkaline clay soil and never see any nitrogen deficiency in my plants. I pay about €70 per 1000L for the CPB here, the same quantity of grit would be five times that! Shame it’s weirdly expensive for you.
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