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Tillers, big and small

muddstopper

muddstopper

Addicted to ArboristSite
Joined
Nov 20, 2011
Messages
4,802
Location
mountains of nc
I have pretty much ran the gauntlet of tiller sizes over the years. The old front tine 5hp chain driven tiller where all we had back in the 1960's. They where pretty good for smoothing up the soil once it had been plowed, but would beat you to death on hard packed soil or hitting a rock. As time went by, I finally bought a 3pt, 6ft gear driven tiller. Man that sure made prepping a garden fast and the hardest part was hooking the tiller to the tractor. I bought a used southern states rear tine for the hand tilling needs. I finally found a troybuilt red horse rear tine. 8hp beast. It had a few carb issues but once I got that fixed, it cranked and tilled excellent. My biggest problem with it was my garden spot was fenced in and when you got to the end of the rows, it was a beast to turn around because of its weight. Since I sold my house and bought another, I no longer have the need for the big heavy tiller, all my gardening is in raised beds. So enter the new Mantis tiller. Pick it up with one hand and set in the bed. I was given a can of premix fuel with it and haven't used it all yet, so my experience is limited with the Mantis. I don't really like having to pull it backwards to make it dig. I have found that letting the tiller run forward and holding back seems to break up the top layer of soil so that going backwards for the deep till is a little easier. Maybe I am doing it wrong, but something about walking backwards and dragging a tiller thru the soil just doesn't seem right. I suspect the soil in these raised bed isn't that great. It look nice, but it doesn't drain at all. My onions are already rottening in the ground. I have never had that problem before. It is what it is for this year since I don't have time to redo the beds, but I will be mixing in organic material and mulch this season hoping to Improve the soil drainage issues. The mantis is supposed to dig 10inches, but I don't like the way the tines leave gaps of untilled soil and then bottoms out on the frame of the tiller. Never had that problem with any other tiller I have used. Yea I can wiggle the tiller side to side and get rid of those ridges, but that is a lot of dragging and wiggleing to break up the soil. Any suggestions as to what I might be doing wrong using the Mantis.
 
chucker

chucker

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Joined
May 11, 2009
Messages
3,225
Age
62
Location
pillager, minnesota
a 4 tine digging fork works wonders with no gas or oil to stink up the hands or fog the lungs... a little exercise helps the heart and soul to boot!
 
muddstopper

muddstopper

Addicted to ArboristSite
Joined
Nov 20, 2011
Messages
4,802
Location
mountains of nc
I really think it is the soil in the bed. The previous owners built and filled the bed. The dirt looks sandy but has a very clay texture. I have thought about where this dirt may have came from and it occurred to me the State did a wetlands project about a mile from this house. The dirt looks like something that might have been mucked from a swamp. My guess is that the soil contains high levels of magnesium, which pulls and holds moisture. I plan on pulling a sample and having it tested. Magnesium isn't something found in large quantities in my area, but is common is low lying wet areas. I wont be adding anything but organic compost to the beds this year. But I aint opposed to adding store bought fertilizers to bring the soil back in balance. If the soil does contain high levels of magnesium, I will be adding gypsum, (calcium and sulfur) to lower the magnesium saturation levels. I used to have a PH soil probe, but it seems to have gotten lost in the move. A very high ph would also be an indication of elevated magnesium levels. Of course without a soil test, I am just guessing and could be very wrong.
 
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