How to Choose the Right Garden Cultivator
You’ll need the right garden cultivator to keep your plants growing, and choosing a good one is half the battle. The first thing you should do is figure out what kind of garden cultivator works the best for the type of work you need to do.
For especially hard soil, the kind of garden cultivator you’ll need is an aerator. These are gas or electric powered, and they turn the soil to loosen it and get some air underneath the top layer. Aerators work well to loosen the soil before planting or stir the soil around plants to let some air underneath.
A standard garden cultivator is a pronged tool that usually has either a four-inch or 12-inch handle. You can use this tool to break up larger clods of dirt left behind after you aerated the soil. A handheld garden cultivator is also helpful for getting in between plants if you don’t have room to use a larger tool to turn the soil.
You also may need a rotary cultivator if you live in an area where the soil is especially hard. Rotary cultivators are larger and often come with collapsible handles to save space in your storage shed. Some rotary cultivators come with attachments like a single row garden seeder. Look at what kinds of attachments come with the model you’re considering purchasing and decide which attachments will fit your needs and part of the world best. For example, if you live in a place where it never snows or you never work in the snow, then you won’t need the snowplow blade that comes with some rotary cultivators.
A hoe is the perfect utility tool, and all gardeners should have one or two. Look for a hoe with a one-piece blade that’s attached to the handle by a socket. Hoes with sockets will last longer than those that are welded together. Use a hoe with a six-inch blade to prepare the soil in your garden for planting. You’ll only need a 1 and ¾ inch blade if you need to weed a garden that’s already been planted.
You’ll need a hand trowel to perform finer tasks in your garden.
This type of garden cultivator is useful for loosening dirt or transplanting. Look for a hand trowel with a high carbon steel blade and select the one that fits your hand the best. If you need to transplant some of your plants, you’ll find a two-inch hand trowel to be helpful, but you’ll need a 3 and a half-inch blade for loosening dirt.
Some other garden cultivators include seeders and planters. These tools can help you plant your bulbs and seeds faster and more efficiently. Most garden seeders look like a container with two wheels. You fill up the container and roll it along with the garden. The seeder then spreads the seeds out as you go along. Bulb planters can be used to plant and transplant bulbs. Just wiggle it into the ground and pull out a clump of dirt to make space for your bulb.
Where did all the front lines go?
Before we continue, let’s take a short lesson in history: Two decades ago, the great peasant controversy was inciting traditional peasants to the fore against the innovative design of Troy-Bilt, as the spines were installed behind the engine, in the back. The lovable design has won because all the leading tillage manufacturers have now gone on shaded models. (See “Ten Real Warriors,” page 86).
Out of racing
If you’re in a state of speed and plow, move to Emerson, Arkansas, to attend the Tyler Tiller Rotary World Championship, part of the Purple Hall Biz Festival scheduled for 27 and 28 June 2003. Expect extreme machinery and intense competition from the Waller Team from three schedules, Arkansas. Last year, Wallers’ “Wild Thang” set a new record by depriving 200 feet in 6.34 seconds, which counts to 21.5 mph.
One ongoing experiment is to rotate the back teeth in the opposite direction of the powered wheels. This feature, called reverse spin spines, is still available in a few models, but I’ve heard a good summary of its shortcomings from Larry Reimer, an orchard farm engineer who lives near Augusta, Kansas. Reimer recognized the reverse tiller just before moving on to the bigger tiller with forwarding rotating teeth. He explains: “The teeth of the rotor meter are dug so hard that the self-propelled tires are buried, and you reach the point where you have to push the tiller.” “It must be a fight.”
Reimer has plenty of room to cover in muddy soil that is hard rocky in summer, so he needs the strength and weight of his big horse Troy-Bilt.
I’ve also used one, which is great if you’re working in straight rows. One of the drawbacks of shaded tillage is hard to turn; the larger the tiller, the more space you need to change directions. The more compact your space, the more reason you have to consider small plows.
But you may want to have a large farmer not only because of his tillage capacity but also because of the attachments that can be played. The largest peasants can turn tree dividers, or pull a cart of rocks or clear snow from the boardwalk.
The BCS 720 (8-horse) or Troy-Bilt 10-horsepower Big Red are often called mobile tractors; the tillers that the attachments go with are considered.
Hassle-free tillage tips
Mow the plants up before you. Also, consider trimming. This reduces the amount of scrap that is caught in the teeth of the plow.
Never even wet soil. Light moisture is the best soil condition for tillage. If necessary, irrigate extremely dry sites three days before that even.
Avoid excessive plowing of aggressive or invasive plants that produce root roots, such as crab, Johnson, wild grass or Canadian thorns. Dig them by hand.
When plowing between rows to control weeds, keep the tillage depth. Deep tillage afflicts plant roots and pulls weed seeds to the surface.
Check the oil level in your plow regularly, and change it before it turns dark, 15 hours after the run time or every two years, whichever comes first.
Use the low gear when running a heavy plow on loose soil or a slope. When operating a large farmer, it is often slow and safe together.
If the farmer gets out of control, stop his operation. Do not try to wrestle it in submission – you will lose. Stop, reassemble and start again.
There are a few places more compact than raised beds, which are often rotated in intensively managed gardens. Although preparing the soil is a very fun job to do manually, the availability of a new generation of compact, light, and easy-to-use cultivation changes how some people garden, including me.
Unframed high beds do not attract ants or termites, and the absence of obstruction tires makes it easy to make organic materials in the soil between crops using a small plow.
My backhoe 3hp only weighs just 100lbs, and it’s just my size. (I love the tiller, I can easily maneuver when it doesn’t work.) But when my soil quality improves a little bit more I am thinking of shrinking it to the real little tiller, many of which weigh less than 30 lbs.
Many people who use small tillers stand long and smile when big dog fans throw jokes around their compact machines. They do not care, because they are having fun! When your tiller is as maneuverable as a herb thumper, you can not only replenish a vegetable bed in no time, but you won’t feel like you have been run over by a truck when you’re done.
Bill Norcote, the native reader in Hobbs, New Hampshire, was surprised by the power of the little peasant 2 horse Troy Belt. “We use it to remove weeds and lay rows, which we do a lot because we have continuous cycles,” says Northcote. He rented a large farmer to get his garden, but now he and his wife use the mini farmer exclusively.