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Zone 9, Central Florida
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I just got a Tiller (a friend's dad died, it set for a year and he said keep it dad would want you to have it, ? I didn't know his dad but form one gardener to another Thanks!). Well after using it I said WOW! this beats shoveling the in and out of my container tubs.
I removed 65 containers and tilled the container mix and soil .

I will ground plant a bigger garden as MAN and Machine bond, (look out)

So I and so would others I think Like to know some of the following Questions
* How to start ?
* Can you over till preparing your garden ?
* Can you till green grass clippings, hay, oak leaves and compost direct into the garden?

* row spacing so you can deweed after the plants start growing ?

Please you Guy & Gal Tiller People join in, Speak up and Share,
Just Gardening Guilt Trip
 

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I have a tiller, and yes I till in all sorts of organic material. You'll need to break the soil initially with a shallow setting then slowly graduate deeper and deeper. I don't know that you can really overtill, but I guess that would depend upon your soil type. I have a clay loam, so it doesn't really get overtilled.

I space my rows about 10' wider than the tiller, with 5' on either side extra space. Long straight rows are best.
 

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Shallow and perpendicular for the first couple of passes. Depending upon the tiller you may be able to go from shallow to full depth after those two.

Tilling in organic matter such as leaves and grass is a form of sheet composting and always works well for me. Do it in the fall so that earthworms have all winter to work on it anytime not frozen. I pile leaves on about a foot deep but sometimes have to make a couple of passes to incorporate them.

Personally I don't care to cultivate with a roto-tiller. To till closely to the plants you would probably be root pruning. I prefer a high wheeled cultivator that I can really maneuver closely to the plant and control the depth easily. In fairly fluffy ground you can cultivate with one about as fast as you can push it. In my sandy soil I can make it one continuous motion without stopping. Of course I've given up that practice and now roto-till, plant, and cultivate with tractor mounted equipment.

One caution--DO NOT Till when the soil is too damp, unless it is very sandy which is more forgiving.

In my opinion the only way to over till is if the ground becomes so fine that it sheds rain causing erosion. If that happens you probably need more organic matter or a cover crop to stop the runoff.

Since you are fairly new to roto-tillers be careful they bite. By that I mean they can be dangerous if you allow yourself to get careless.

Enjoy your new machine and remember the giver next summer with a big batch of produce from time to time. And yes, a tiller eases the burden and easily allows a much larger garden for about the same amount of work.
 

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Always Thinking
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We till to break new ground and turn in organic material at the start or end of the season. We do not till during the season.

We like to plant in beds (tomato, peppers, eggplant, cole crops, and so on), then use newspaper, straw, etc as mulch for keeping weeds down and holding moisture.

For rows (beans, corn, viney crops) - we prefer to work with a hoe to control weeds. After cleaning up weeds once or twice, we mulch with straw or hay to hold moisture for the rest of the season. Between rows, we run layers of cardboard to keep weeds down.

As mentioned above - never till when the soil is wet, especially if you have clay or clay loam soil.
 

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Once I was seven years old
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We do about the same as Windy. Personally, I'd give anything for another pig and some good fencing. The pig we had last winter made the perfect soil for our garden this year. Once the pig was gone for a few months the soil was tilled...well, I've never seen such beautiful soil. And hardly any weeds grew in the bed this year. I added about a hundred or so wheelbarrows of leaves while he was in the pen. I'm sure that had a lot to do with it. Just keep on adding all the organic matter you can and then till it under before deep winter so it has time to break down before you start planting.
 

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Hmmm...been mulling over getting a pig - hate pigs but love pork :) I have a large garden area tilled and after the last post I'm now thinking about putting a pig on half of it next year. We have clay and then some more clay. There's about 12 inches of good top soil and then clay (did I mention we have clay?). I've been digging holes for trees (nine more to dig in the next couple of days) and use a pick axe on the clay.

I've gardened on 4 foot wide beds for 20 years but during the hot humid months the weeds get the best of me. Next spring the garden is going to be in rows wide enough to get the tiller through. Gonna try that one year and see how it goes.

We have a large tiller and I have a Mantis that needs repaired. LOVE the Mantis for already good ground. doesn't till more than about 8 inches but is sooo light. Husband has a parts list printed out so he can fix it (SOMEONE left gas in it over last winter).
 

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Once I was seven years old
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We have horribly sandy soil that drys out super quick in warm weather. Again, without the enormous amount of leaves that were added I'm sure the soil would have been better, but not nearly as good as it is now. I used the worms that it produced for catching stringers of fish for the freezer. I didn't fertilize the area once this year and the plants were never so green before.
 

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As others have stated, one can not over-till. The 3 basic elements of soil can not get much smaller than they already are and always have been able to find a way to go back together. If it's heavy soil, getting back together isn't always a good thing. That's where deeply tilling in a lot of organic matter comes in to prevent it from happening.

For myself, I fell in love with the original Mantis 20 or so years ago as soon as a 5-pound brick was added to bring it up to 20 pounds. Now have the new one which, coincidently, weighs a perfect 20 pounds! Despite its apparent small size, I ran through three 450 square feet plots in 1½ hours in one go this spring. Most plots took just over 20 minutes. It wasn't pasture sod but rain-hardened silt. The advantage with the Mantis is the depth that it can go. I love to virtually bury it and that's close to 9". Mixing lots of organic matter into that much soil sets it up for several years of availability. This fall, one gardener covered his plot with almost 3" of shredded oak and maple leaves and rented a Mantis to get them into the ground. His heavy silt and clay mix is going to be perfect texture next spring.

Martin
 
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