Skip to comments.Vanity: Garden Tillers: Advice & Opinions Needed
Posted on 02/09/2012 7:47:29 AM PST by Jed Eckert
Good morning fellow gardening Freepers. I'm in need of a good affordable garden tiller and was wondering what you folks think. I used to simply rent one but that option is pretty much out now since nearly all the rental places quit carrying tillers. The one place left that does rent tillers is prohibitively expensive.
So, I'm considering just buying a smaller one. The Mantis XP fits my budget and they make a convincing sales pitch (good warranty, free shipping, Honda Engine) but I don't have a clue if they're any good. I'm open to any and all suggestions.
I'm working a 30' x 30' plot. I'm in East Central Florida so my soil is sandy, no rocks, but can have a pretty tough, nasty layer of sod/weeds whenever I break new ground. I usually plant twice during a year, Spring and Fall, so the tiller will probably get about double the use that Northern gardeners would give it.
In my 54 years on this earth there are few products I have purchased that I have been as satisfied with as the Mantis tiller I bought.
I love it, and am very glad I bought it. I use it all the time (I bought all the fancy attachments and use them- they all work as advertised)
Good question and I’ll be interested in the posts.
My Troy Built 4 Cycle blower/edger had a tiller/trimmer attachment which I bought. I tilled my entire yard with it. Sure a $3,000 would have been nice but this did the job if you’d stop every 20 minutes or so and clear the knotted roots of the blades. Just about all tillers need that. This attachment was under $120 at Lowes. Good luck.
of s/b off
FR has a weekly garden meet every Friday. You might want to ask your question there and join us. Can’t remember who has the ping list now.
Troybilt has historically made great products. I think most any tiller with a direct/gear drive transmission would work, preferrably with a rear mounted tiller. Arians had some good ones too.
I'm looking at an electric model because I'm a pretty fair hobby electrician. But I'm not confident that any of the electrical models on the market will withstand the rigors of a fairly heavy and slightly rocky clay soil which is prevalent in SW Pennsylvania. In addition, even trees far away from the garden area send out runners during the off-season which magically appear with every tilling.
I have about the same size garden as you (only 20'x 45'') but am also considering that hiring someone to till it might be worth eliminating the footprint of keeping a piece of equipment or (in case of the electrical model), having the rotating tilling parts give out before the motor.
That’s a toy in my opinion but it may be all you need in FL. If it’s comparable to what you rented and in your budget then have at it. Personally, I like cast iron gear boxes on tillers and tines that weigh almost as much as the entine weight of the unit you’re looking at.
1-800 Dial A Hoe...
Have a Sears 5hp 24in tiller bought about 4 years ago.
Have to guess at price, maybe around $250. Never tuned up and runs great. 100ft by 100ft garden tilled twice a year.
I take the outside tines off and use it for hoeing between the rows all summer.
Which model did you get?
In Florida our sand (some call it soil) doens’t need to be broken up. There are no rocks to deal with, and no clay that needs to be dealt with. Your chore isn’t actually what most would call “tilling the soil.” All you need to do is break up the weed and grass roots and you’re basically done. The Mantis will work fine. For heavier (real) dirt in a garden that size I like the Troy-Bilt Pony. But that much tiller would be far more than you’ll ever need.
We tried the Mantis here in kentucky, a lot of clay in the soil when we first started gardening. The only thing it is good for is weeding after the hard work has been done. The Mantis makes a very narrow row and takes a long time to do that in hard soil.
We got a Troy Built, it makes a two foot wide row instead of 6 inches. It is very heavy. One nice thing about it is that it goes deep. To start a new plot it will take a few times through but once the ground is broken up the first time it goes right through it. I always make two passes one in slow speed and one in fast to break up any clods. When I get done my feet will sink in about 6 inches or so walking on the tilled soil. Plants come up from seeds quickly in the soft dirt.
Because a tiller is used so infrequently they will last forever. Buy a used one at a yard sale or on Craigs list.
My Troy built starts on the first pull every time.
I have two large plots. I like being able to till the ground in a matter of minutes instead of fighting for hours.
Good luck and happy gardening, home grown food is much better than the salty store bought junk.
Another 54 year old chiming in here: the only time I’ve ever used a tiller it was a rented Mantis (here in KS the rental yards still have them) and I was quite satisfied.
(To Mr. K re your tag-line: no. At least not in the last generation: the moment the Soviet Union fell, Pravda immediately turned into an honest news organization, even if it’s a bit of a sensationalistic tabloid.)
One can purchase a MF 135 or a 600-800 Series diesel Ford Tractor for less than $3000 and plow up a large field, bush hog, and have a means of transportation if the SHTF. With a storage of 250 gallons of diesel one can live a couple of years comfortably after the SHTF. The tillers are gasoline and if the SHTF gas is going to be real hard to come by.
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