A necessary step for gardening is getting the soil ready, and that’s where the tiller/cultivator comes in. Once upon a time I used to grow a garden the hard and ineffective way. I used to dig up the soil with a shovel and try to bust up the clumps as I went and then put the seeds down, watered and hoped for the best. In a good year, I would get a mediocre return on that back breaking work at best. But no more. I found out how to get great results from my garden with less effort.
Why I Use A Tiller/Cultivator
In order to get the best results from a garden, the soil must be prepared properly. This is where a tiller or cultivator comes in. They cut weeds and turn the soil over. When they turn the soil, they also break it up, saving you hours of back breaking effort. The benefit to the plants is that they get soil which is mixed to more evenly distribute nutrients, and it aerates the soil which makes it easier for tender roots to take hold and grow healthy and strong.
Another benefit is that if weeds have been growing, the tiller will uproot them and bury their leaves, which breaks the photosynthesis cycle by which they live. In fact, they become nutrients for your own plants.
Types of Tillers and Cultivators
There are tillers which are man-powered, which are fine for smaller gardens with well-maintained soil. And there are powered tillers. These come in both gasoline powered and electrically powered versions. This is a better choice if you’re planning on preparing your garden in soil which has lain fallow for some time and become too firm to hand cultivate. They also are a much better choice if your garden plot is one of some size. For any size garden, you will certainly be able to find a reasonably priced tiller*.
Hand Tillers and Cultivators
For small gardens with good soil a hand tiller is all that you need to prepare your garden for planting. These hand tools range from mutli-tined tools with long handles similar to a rake but with much longer and fewer teeth, to small trowel sized tillers suitable for very small plots, or for touching up small areas of a garden.
Powered Tillers and Cultivators
For the serious gardener or for those like me who are beginning to feel their years, a powered tiller is almost a necessity. In my own case, I know that these old muscles just can’t work like they used to be able to, and if using a machine such as this makes my gardening a success, then so be it.
By far the most commonly encountered type of powered tiller are the gasoline powered models. These offer not only the power of the gasoline engine, but the weight of the machine helps it deal with stubborn hard soil.
There are two types of these machines. Those which are self-propelled, and those which need some help from their human operators.
A smaller tiller/cultivator such as one of the Mantis Tillers is easy to move through your garden soil, even though the wheels are not powered. However, there is plenty of forward moving energy from the rotating tiller blades. And really, all that is needed is some steering input from the human operator.
The Mantis tiller/cultivators are smaller, lighter designs which are great for a small to medium sized garden. Plus the width of around 9 inches makes them great for weeding between furrows. But for larger gardens, you may want to consider something like some of the Husqvarna tiller/cultivators. Not only do they make fine tillers, but Husqvarna chainsaws are known for their easy starting and reliability.
The Husqvarna tiller/cultivators offer the power of a Briggs and Stratton motor and use counter-rotating tines, and have both forward and reverse power gearing. These go through soil like a dream. They cost a bit more than the much smaller Mantis tillers, but if you have hard soil or a large garden to till, they are really hard to beat. Another popular brand of gasoline tiller/cultivators is a Troy-Bilt tiller.
The electric tillers may just be the wave of the future. As long that is, as your garden is within extension cord range. Quieter, lighter, but still powerful, electric tiller/cultivators are starting to come into their own. They come in a variety of sizes fit all but the largest gardens which require tractor powered cultivators. No air pollution. No starting problems. Just a simple push of a button and away they go.
Some of the top names when it comes to electric tiller/cultivators are Troy-Bilt, Sun Joe, Earthwise, and Mantis.
As I write this the air is still cold, and the soil is not yet ready to begin the new garden, but it becoming time to think about and begin planning this year’s garden. My first step always will be the preparation of the soil, and that means using a tiller/cultivator. I’m really looking forward to my new garden this year, as I do every year. Nothing beats fresh vegetables and fruits when it comes to flavorful and healthy meals. In another month or so, it will be time where I live, to till the soil of my garden. I can’t wait to use my tiller/cultivator and start the garden.
*Please note the link above directs to amazon as I have found they offer great deals on tillers and cultivators.