tufaleafJune 14, 2006

Has anyone tried the famous little tiller that supposedly turns even the worst garden soil into the "best"? With all the clay and rocks we have, does this little machine work here in Alabama? I'd do anything to have nice flower beds that didn't have to be raised beds.


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I haven't tried one but you can't turn clay into loam with any kind of tiller. I have an 8 hp tiller that will turn almost any soil, but the clay still packed down from year to year. Just look at the commercial. That soil they are turning at such a fast rpm rate is as light and fluffy as used coffee grounds.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2006 at 11:31PM
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I love mine!!!! I'm 5'1" and have arthritis. The tiller cranks easily, is light enough for me to carry, and I could use my post hole diggers as a trellis, because I even use the tiller for that [digging holes]. It works on the soil like a blender- yes, it does make it light/fluffy. Got mine from an ebay store. Fine piece of engineering.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2006 at 8:22AM
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One pro, one con. Any other comments? Daisy, what is your soil like in TN where you live? I live at the top of a mountain and I do believe all the top soil has washed down to the foot of the mountain! I'm basically red clay and chirt!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2006 at 8:58AM
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bama_hosta_man(z7 AL)

I've had the electric version for 18 months. I chose it since I've got a poor track record with performing timely maintenance. My property is wooded but cleared next to the house. Where it is cleared, it is primarily chert and clay. I have been very pleased with the tiller. There are times when it bounces due to the rocks but it also has the flexibility for me to pick it up and place it in the center of an established bed and mix in amendments or dig a hole for a new plant.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2006 at 3:26PM
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I wasn't aware of the electric version! Hmmmm...I'm thinking either electric or gas powered will make a great Christmas present (ladies have to plan ahead!)

Thanks for the info!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2006 at 4:50PM
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I live at the foot of a mountain, near a gap cut through by water. I don't have chirt, I have good soil and river rock. The tiller does bounce off the big rocks [think bronco riding!] [or what I imagine bronc' riding would be like] Mine was a birthday present to me!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2006 at 6:36PM
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what is chert/chirt? not a typo?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2006 at 9:28AM
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catbird(z7 AL)

The tiller's one step in making better soil from clay, but use it to work in lots of compost and some coarse sand (not fine sandbox sand which will turn it into concrete). Better yet, do a "lasagna" bed: cover the ground with a layer of sand, 10 layers or so of newspaper covered with wood chips, grass clippings, anything organic you have. Let that sit for a season or two and either plant right into it as is or, if it's pretty well decomposed, till it into the soil. Keep adding wood chips or other organic mulch every year and you'll have much better soil.

If your mountain property slopes enough that the organic matter washes away, make terraces with some of those rocks and fill them with good topsoil or lots of compost to work into your clay.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2006 at 6:08PM
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fredw10(z8 AL)

The Stihl tiller is the greatest thing since sliced bread and better than the Mantis. None of the small ones will handle rocks and large roots.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 8:55AM
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I haven't even looked at the Stihl!
I have done some lasagna gardening and was totally surprised at how well it really works! And it brings earthworms galore - BIG ones that startle me when I dig. I hadn't even thought about trying it for my new llloooonnnggg flower border/bed that I will not plant until next year anyway. Well, Fall at the earliest and then just the basics.

I will check on other brands of tillers. I really need one that I can handle myself - middle-aged, short, slightly over-weight female!

Chert/Chirt is clay that has mostly tiny rock particles in it. It is hard, compacted and impossible to garden. Imagine concrete that has been broken up into a million tiny pieces. You now have a semblance of chert (smile).


    Bookmark   June 22, 2006 at 10:05AM
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