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Do I Need A Tiller?


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#1 ibskot OFFLINE  

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Posted January 02, 2014 - 01:11 AM

I am a newbie. I am getting a house with enough space for maybe 1/4 acre garden. I have a plow and getting a disc. Do I need a tiller too? Or plow and then disc it? I got no clue. Never done this before.

Thanks and sorry for the dumb question but I keep asking people and nobody seems to really know.
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#2 KC9KAS OFFLINE  

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Posted January 02, 2014 - 04:54 AM

1st of all, :welcome:

 

A tiller would be necessary to work between the rows of veggies while growing.

The plow and disc will do the job to get the garden ready to plant, but unless you want to do a LOT of hand work with a hoe to keep the weeds down and soil loose......you better have a tiller, even if it is a smaller walk-behind model.


Edited by KC9KAS, January 02, 2014 - 04:59 AM.

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#3 MH81 ONLINE  

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Posted January 02, 2014 - 05:04 AM

:welcometogttalk:
As for your question, the best ways to do a garden pretty much all involve one. They leave an easy to work seed bed and help with weed control.
If its a newly turned area (currently grass), turn the dirt over with the plow and leave it for a couple of weeks to kill the grass off. Then disc if you want to even out the lumps, but most guys will just till at this point.
The first time you till it, it will be a slow process as the roots are still holding the soil together.

Depending on how much time you have, you may want to till again before planting to finish any hardy grasses off.

I plow and till every year.

One other thing many guys do for a first time planting. If you buy enough roundup to spray the area you plan on plowing and allow it to kill the grass, it will speed up the process by the time you would leave the ground sit to kill off the grass. I say this because usually you could get in and spray a couple of weeks before you could run a tractor with plow due to wetness.

What kind of tractor are you using? Have any pictures of the rig?
Good luck on your garden.
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#4 JDBrian OFFLINE  

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Posted January 02, 2014 - 05:47 AM

I can recommend a rear tyne model.  I recently switched to a Troy Bilt rear tyne and it does a much nicer job as well as being easier on the body.


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#5 Alc ONLINE  

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Posted January 02, 2014 - 06:30 AM

Welcome to GTTalk ibskot !  I couldn't have said it any better then MH81 ,  I wish I would have had that advise years ago when I started my garden in the grassy area , as much as I don't like using cemicals I was chasing grass and weeds for what seemed like years ..  I use a tractor with a  tiller after plowing , then have a small Troy Built mini culitvator for in-between rows but a larger like JDBrian suggested  one would work just as well with a wider row and also be able to till the whole garden after plowing Good luck !


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#6 Alc ONLINE  

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Posted January 02, 2014 - 06:35 AM

Just a thought , when started gardening I would till my garden then keep going over and over again till the soil was like power . Found out through reading and talking to others all I was by doing was making  my soil easy to compact with rain and turn crusty . By leaving the soil just tilled enough to plant it let the water and air go through easier when rained on .


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#7 farmer john OFFLINE  

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Posted January 02, 2014 - 06:42 AM

welcome there are no stupid questions, when you dont know the smart thing to do is ask, the stupid thing to do is not ask.
now that your here you have shown an interest, tillers are very handy, a rear tine is easier to work with. older troy bilt one of the best. i have a tiller on my tractor also, but for weeding a garden that has been planted i really like my tiller on my stihl kombi k130 i do however find it a tad heavy, but i am pushing 58. in my 20s i would of thought i needed a bigger unit. it also converts to a awsome weed wacker, broom and pole saw, with more attachments coming out, stay away from the home depot/lowes riobi units they are junk and difficult if not impossible to fix, a stihl may cost more but with using the right fuel mix will last you , i would say a life time but my fs 90 died after 25 yrs and a new tank is not available thus the k130
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#8 Lance Skene OFFLINE  

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Posted January 02, 2014 - 08:39 AM

Gardens were planted long before tillers where invented so you dont "need" a tiller but they are nice to have. One thing your missing is a cultivator, It would be used after the plough and will dig deeper and break up the soil better than the disc harrow which is more of a final prep tool. Cultivators are usually adjustable to work the weeds in between the rows aswell. Also, a plough is used for the initial ground breaking but they arent needed again on the same plot, after that the cultivator used for turning the soil in the spring and fall and then the harrows are used to smooth out the top couple inches to reduce wind errosion.

A roto-tiller is basically a powered cultivator, you need one or the other, and either some diamond or disc harrows aswell.

#9 JD DANNELS OFFLINE  

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Posted January 02, 2014 - 09:27 AM

You are getting a lot of good advice!! Been gardening for at least 50 of my 63 yrs and have tried about everything.

If you had absolutely perfect loose soil with lots of organic matter in it you could probably make a nice garden with nothing more than a turning fork and hoe.

Honestly I don't think any of us have absolutely perfect soil?

As was said the plow and disc is a good initial tilling tool. But for my soil a Tiller is absolutely needed. My Current Garden started out in a corn field(Field Corn) that had pretty well been worked to death and was only growing a crop due to amply adding chemicals.

That's not my style since I garden to keep chemicals out and control what goes into my garden.

I have about 7,000 sq ft of garden and the tillers are important with the clay based loam I have to work with. I'm slowly adding organics and gaining, but this is only my 4th spring coming up on this place.

I fall plow with a MiddleBuster mounted on my 20 hp Compact Tractor. Don't own a disc, so will mount the 4 ft tiller on the tractor and till the heck out of it. Once the crops are up the little Troy Built (rear Tine) tiller becomes my primary cultivating tool  I works everything between the rows leaving only the weeds between the plants to be pulled or cut with a hoe. Once things are pretty much under control I mulch between the rows with Grass Clippings harvested from my lawn.

Working 40 hrs a week and spending 10 hrs commuting each week if I did not have the power tools I simply could not keep up.

A nice garden can be kept with nothing more than hand tools, but the trade off is time and one may have to go smaller to allow that.

 

Having owned and run both front tine and Rear Tine Tillers, There is in my opinion nothing better than rear tine!!

Each requires it's own technique or they can be man killers.

Front tine is a bucking monster in hard ground and can hurt you unless you learn to bury the tines over center of the axle and let them eat their way through the hard going. I have seen much bigger and stronger  than I hurt themselves trying to muscle/Horse a Front tine machine.

Rear tines in hard going can launch themselves if you try to take too big a bite. Best practice is to take much smaller bites(depth control) and go over the ground multiple times to reach full depth. 

In either event both are much faster than a hoe or spade.

 

One last comment and this is a "Do as I say not as I do" thing.  Most of us bite off more than we can chew?

It is far better to start small with a garden that you absolutely have time to care for. Than to have big ideas and more than you can handle! When your frustrated because you can not keep up it takes the fun out of a rewarding hobby.  You can always expand as you learn and can better manage your time.


Edited by JD DANNELS, January 02, 2014 - 09:37 AM.

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#10 boyscout862 ONLINE  

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Posted January 02, 2014 - 09:29 AM

Welcome to GTT. Relax and enjoy the site. There are many ways to do a garden. NC has a great growing season. Plan your garden, what you want to grow and what your area nutures. Test your soil. My soil is poor so, each year I add several inches of composted horse manure on top and rototill it in. If your ground is new, break it up before adding what you may need.

 

I don't use chemicals so I let the weeds grow and then till them under. We can't plant plant tender plants until mid May so I sometimes til the weeds several times. I mulch my isles with grass cuttings to keep the weeds down.

 

You have plenty of time to learn about your garden and plan what you want to do. The planning is a fun winter activity. Plan on how you will save the bounty.  Good Luck, Rick



#11 Lance Skene OFFLINE  

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Posted January 02, 2014 - 10:19 AM

Seems to be a common theme here of tilling several times a year, that is 'not' good for the soil, it needs to be turned over twice a year max, anymore and it begins to lose its organic nutrients faster than nature can replentish them. Soil needs to be turned in the spring to bring the nutrients up near the surface before planting, and then turned again in the fall to reduce soil pack over the winter. Other than that only the top inch or so should be weeded throughout the year.
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#12 trowel OFFLINE  

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Posted January 02, 2014 - 10:37 AM

welcome there are no stupid questions, when you dont know the smart thing to do is ask, the stupid thing to do is not ask.
 

 

:ditto:  I generally plow first with a single bottom, disk it in and then roto till in leaves and compost to break down through out the summer. Usually my gardens are not big enough to use a tiller for cultivation and use hand cultivator, sharp beet hoe and garden spade but a rotary cultivator is always a plus and saves the back and time.

On most tillers the outer tines can be removed for narrow tilling, if you want to try that, before you set and plant the rows remove the outer tines and use the tiller as a space guild to manuver around the garden, inside and outside the rows taking into consideration not to till to close and deeply to the crop as so to chop up the roots.

Tilling depth is not so deep for cultivation as you would for spring tilling.

In the fall i plow and till in leaves/compost and if i have the time/money seed with green manure for spring tilling.



#13 New.Canadian.DB.Owner OFFLINE  

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Posted January 02, 2014 - 11:19 AM

I have two plows, a cultivator, a harrow, three tillers and 5000 sq feet of gardens.  I find the tiller is good for shallow, but to get deeper, you really need a plow.  We plow new ground, and till thereafter.  However, we also use a plow wherever the potatoes will be planted to create the gully.  For the main gardens, we have switched to raised beds.  We plowed, tilled, and then shoveled the walkways onto the raised beds.  The lowered walkways give the rain somewhere to collect, which encourages the roots to go deeper.  The raised beds are easy to till & give extra loose soil depth for root veggies, which like looser soils.  We cover the walkways with mulch that we get free from a tree cutting service.

 

On a side note, size matters.  I have a plow for my tractor, which is great for big spaces, but not so good in tight spaces.  For those we use a walk behind.  Same for my tillers.  The tractor mounted tiller doesn't do well in the raised beds, but the smallest one does an awesome job.

 

Likewise, consider rotation of the tine.  I find the counter rotating tines create a wall of soil moving ahead of the tiller that ends up piled at the end of the row.  The other rotation wants to climb out of the soil if it hits hard-pack or rocks.

 

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#14 Kurtee OFFLINE  

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Posted January 02, 2014 - 11:31 AM

Seems to be a common theme here of tilling several times a year, that is 'not' good for the soil, it needs to be turned over twice a year max, anymore and it begins to lose its organic nutrients faster than nature can replentish them. Soil needs to be turned in the spring to bring the nutrients up near the surface before planting, and then turned again in the fall to reduce soil pack over the winter. Other than that only the top inch or so should be weeded throughout the year.

I agree with this. The fall tillage breaks up and buries plant matter which is humus and also helps with some of the diseases in the garden. If I use the tiller to cultivate I keep it to a shallow depth. Most of my garden area the rows are too close to use a tiller even a small one. I tend to use a garden rake for weeding. The trick is to get started early and just rake the top 1" or so. Weed seeds that are deeper than that won't germinate and you wipe out that ones that do so that later in the season very little work is required. A tiller usually exceeds the 1" depth and brings more weed seeds into the germination zone thus more weeds. The mulching trick with grass clippings is also good as it keeps the weeds down and helps the soil to retain moisture in the hot dry summers. Plus it becomes humus when tilled in come fall. Also the starting small is a good tip, because if you become overwhelmed you tend to lose interest. Good Luck and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

 

KURTEE

 

another trick that may be of use to you when breaking new ground is to cover the area with clear plastic for a few days to kill the existing vegetation. Just lay out the plastic where you want to work up and hold it down with some rocks or boards to let the sun do the rest. It cooks it sort of.


Edited by Kurtee, January 02, 2014 - 02:27 PM.

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#15 Lance Skene OFFLINE  

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Posted January 02, 2014 - 05:18 PM

Something else to think about... most flowering plants can be cloned by taking a cutting from one plant to create another, and weeds are wild flowers, if you run a roto tiller thru them you are not killing weeds...your planting more.

To keep the weeds down during the growing season you can lay down long strips of old carpet between the rows, or boards or pretty much anything available, it also gives you someplace to step when the ground is wet
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