Tiller – Choosing

Q: You mentioned recently that you have a “little two-cycle tiller” that works well for you. I have been looking for a tillers for several months now and have been told that only an expensive 6 horsepower rear-tine tiller will cultivate clay. They are expensive, plus being big and heavy. I garden about three-fourth of an acre of land extensively. Like every gardener I spend half of my time digging clay and amending the soil. Can you tell me how to choose a tiller?

A: I guess it’s a matter of matching the tiller to the job, both now and in the future. I have an acre to care for but I only till beds of 50 – 100 square feet at a time. They are small enough that I can spade up an area then use my light-weight two-cycle tiller to mix in my soil amendments.

If you commonly till 1000 – 5000 square feet plots, you need a bigger tiller than mine. A friend has a self-propelled heavy-duty tiller that is a dream to use on hard ground. It creeps slowly forward as it churns the earth. Even so, the tines only penetrate 8 inches.

You must also consider your physical strength. Big tillers are HEAVY. Wrestling them around a garden corner or into a shed can be a back-breaking chore. In my opinion, it might be best to rent a big tiller once or twice a year to dig big bed areas. Keep a two-cycle tiller handy for day-to-day gardening.