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I'm planning on buying my first tiller this spring, but I'm not sure what brand is best for me. The garden I have now is about 20 X 30 and I want to double it. The dirt has a lot of clay and about 5 million rocks. My Sister and I (both majorly lacking in upper body strength...LOL) plan to take this job on ourselves, so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Jen
 

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I have a tiller on a JD300 tractor that works OK. Have one on a MF10 that works excellent! Have a rotohoe rear tine I have never used yet. This one is similar to the troybilt. Troybilts are excellent tillers also, I have a friend with three of them.
Tried a Mantis tiller this fall. Awesome machine I will have one by spring!!!
Tom
 

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Another vote for TroyBilt. Find the biggest one you can afford. . .then get the next one up. We've got an old Horse model that is amazing. . .till with one hand.
 
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I believe that I would get up all the rocks on the surface, and pay someone with a tractor to plow the area a couple times, then run a cultivator or disk through. pick up rocks again, and from then on, do a No Till garden. Spending several hundred dollars on a tiller to work 12 hundred square ft a couple times a year just isn't logical. Or get a used tiller for 50 bucks.
 

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Don't get in a hurry. Rent one this year if you have to. I looked for a couple of years and bought a really nice rear tine tiller after an old guy died. The guy washed it after every use. So it was well taken care of.
 

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Stay away from troy bilt . Troy bilt went belling up a few years back. They could not honor their warranty. Also , you don't want to use a rototiller to breakup the soil too deeply you will end up destroying the soil. Do a google search on double dig method of turning over the soil. The biggest thing you want to is mulch.
 

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I got a new Cub Cadet rear tine tiller and it worked great last year. A new tiller is expensive but I looked at it as an investment, and hope to get many years out of it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for all the great suggestions. I will look into each option you all mentioned....some of them never even crossed my mind and I really appreciate your comments.

Jen
 

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For 1200 square feet, you could even do it with the new generation of the Mantis tiller if it weren't for the rocks. Once you get rid of the rocks, that powerful little bugger is a snap to use and creates a super seed bed.

As at least one has stated, look over what's available for renting locally. Ask the owner what he thinks you need and can handle. If you like the one that you end up using, keep going back year after year and renting the same type. Let the owner replace the tines that your rocks break. It's a lot cheaper than buying it for such a small plot.

Martin
 

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Break your soil with a potato fork. They are inexapnsive and your sister could have her own...rather than one working and one watching. Two people could break up that much soil in a few hours. I find the potato fork much easier on my back than my mantis tiller. I don't have rocks to deal with. I use my fork on a 3000 sq ft garden every spring. I don't break up the soil any more than sticking the fork in, rocking the fork forward, moving the fork back six inches and repeating - will get me. When the ground is broken up, I add compost and rake it down into the cracks. I had heavy clay soil to begin with. Now I can work it with my hands.
 

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If you get a rear tine tiller get one with reversible tine direction.
We have a Craftsman and my folks have a big old troy built both are not good at turning under a thick mat of stuff like leaves or the bedding out of the animal sheds.
Dad resorts to beating it in with an old front tine tiller and we use a disc behind a tractor to get the layer worked in then the regular rear tine tillers work great.
The counter rotation on standard rear tine tillers keep the mat between the tines and the wheels and make it difficult to keep moving. With the reversible tine direction it pulls the stuff under. Husqvarna makes one for around $700.
Our Craftsman is OK but I will be looking for somethig different when it wears out. It has a deep "keel" where the drive to the tines is and if you till deep loose soil it really drags and can get hung up easily. The older Troybuilts and even the new really big one aren't as bad. The smaller new troybuilts are nothing special.
If you have a riding lawnmower of 12HP or better there is a tow behind tiller that has its own motor. I have never tried one but have heard they work OK.
 

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We cursed our Troy-Bilt for a number of years, until the repair guy (who set it up initally and saw it every year before we used it) asked us why we had the tines on backwards. *&%$^#!! Now it indeed works as promised, and we love it.
 

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Alternatively, you could make a lasagna garden and forget tilling altogether.

We have a craftsman, a mantis and a little electric tiller that's just my size. :icecream:

The craftsman is too big for me, so I have to wait for my husband to get it out. It will break sod, handles some gravel well (what little we have in the soil), and overall does a great job, but large enough it can even throw my husband around if he hits something just the right way.

The mantis is small enough for me, but does require some strength to maneuver. It's a powerful little tiller, and I believe would break sod, but is old and difficult to start and keep running.

The electric tiller is great for weeding, giving a second pass to what the larger tiller has already done, and working in compost and manure.

His and her tillers r us.

For a 20 x 30, I'd use the lasagna method. All you need are newspapers, cardboard, dirt, compost, manure, leaves, grass clippings, layered like a pan of lasagna. Plant right in it, mulch the top, the microorganisms and earthworms to the rest.
 

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Alternatively, you could make a lasagna garden and forget tilling altogether.
Remember that the Ruth Stout method of lasagna gardening was to be done over established tilled ground.

The mantis is small enough for me, but does require some strength to maneuver. It's a powerful little tiller, and I believe would break sod, but is old and difficult to start and keep running.
Since you already know that the old Mantis can chew up sod, you'd love the new one. I have both and always used the old one with a brick for added weight. New one is 5# heavier and much easier to start. 25 minutes to do 450 square feet of hard-packed clay and silt mix.

Martin
 

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Remember that the Ruth Stout method of lasagna gardening was to be done over established tilled ground.


Since you already know that the old Mantis can chew up sod, you'd love the new one. I have both and always used the old one with a brick for added weight. New one is 5# heavier and much easier to start. 25 minutes to do 450 square feet of hard-packed clay and silt mix.

Martin
Are you sure about the Ruth Stout method? I thought you could prepare a bed over grass this way.

We have enough tillers around this place. No need to add another. Lol.
 

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Are you sure about the Ruth Stout method? I thought you could prepare a bed over grass this way.
One can prepare it over anything with various degree of success but if you read her book, she did her personal lasagna gardening over established beds, not unbroken ground. Too many people only see the "no-till" thing and think that they can even do it over concrete. What's on the surface of the ground doesn't mean anything if the roots can go any further than that.

Martin
 

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A friend "Richard" put an add in the local shopper guide that said " I will repair your garden tiller for the use of it to tiller my garden this spring and return it to you full of gas and running, He got four calls ? go figure . Just a thought Guilt Trip
 
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