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Electric tillers

Discussion in 'Tools And Equipment' started by Fat Controller, Aug 22, 2020.

  1. Fat Controller

    Fat Controller 'Cuddly' Scottish Admin! Staff Member

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    Are electric tillers any good? Particularly when it comes to being used by disabled people?

    I don't have an awful lot of ground to deal with, but being the area where I am it is very much a clay soil and sets as hard as rock, and I am no longer able to deal with it the way that I used to. I am trying to improve the structure of it to make things easier, with some success, but to do so really properly I would need tons of top soil/compost (literally) and I simply cannot afford that.

    So I wondered about a cheap electric tiller - or would that be either a false economy, or even potentially a really bad idea given that my mobility and balance are not exactly great?
     
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    • Sandy Ground

      Sandy Ground Total Gardener

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      My experience of them is that they dont have enough weight to be of much use. All I use mine for is some light hoeing between the roses. As I have a sandy loam soil, it does work reasonably well for that as long as things are not to dry.
       
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      • pete

        pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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        I've not used it for a few years, but I have one of those mantis tillers. 2 stroke, but I think they do electric as well now.

        It's no use at breaking new ground but makes a very nice tilth once you have got a start.
        As to weight, it can be a bit too light so have tied a couple of house bricks to it occasionally.
        As usual with clay it's about catching it right, too wet or too dry and it s a problem.
         
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        • noisette47

          noisette47 Total Gardener

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          I've got a Mantis too. Very disappointed with it, tbh. A lot of effort to produce a 2" tilth by pulling it backwards as recommended. OK for mixing soil, manure, sand etc. but not much use for turning clay.
           
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          • Fat Controller

            Fat Controller 'Cuddly' Scottish Admin! Staff Member

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            Hmmmm, given that it is my balance that is shot as much as anything, it sounds as though they may be more trouble than they are worth. Thanks for the advice folks :)
             
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            • Perki

              Perki Total Gardener

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              My mum has a little electric mantis which like everyone has said good with already broken soil but otherwise they tend to bounce on the surface of the soil rather than tiller it.

              It be best putting the money towards compost and let the worms do the work for you :blue thumb:. it doesn't have to be new compost old compost still does the same with breaking down the structure of clay soil as does other organic matter like leaves - woodchip etc. Ideally more broken down the better for things like woodchip / leaves but you get the idea
               
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              • Fat Controller

                Fat Controller 'Cuddly' Scottish Admin! Staff Member

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                I have a shredder, so everything gets shredded or chipped and then usually goes into the composters which I can then spread out (or that is the plan); my composters are going to be moved to make them more easily accessible and as part of sorting out the back end of the garden that got way out of control when I was in hospital etc, so their contents will be spread as a base on what is going to become a new sort of raised bed area - will be filling that up with spent compost from this years pots and planters and then topping off with new compost/topsoil at some stage. Once all that is done, the composters will be started again and I will just have to dedicate myself more to getting good compost from them.
                 
              • Sheal

                Sheal Total Gardener

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                A tiller is only good for turning over the surface if the blades don't buckle under the strain. A cultivator is needed for clay but I don't know that they're available anymore.
                 
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                • Fat Controller

                  Fat Controller 'Cuddly' Scottish Admin! Staff Member

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                  I did think about using a rotovator (hiring rather than buying) but they seem to be a bit big, and to be honest I don't think I have the balance/body strength to be able to use one. I'll just have to work at it slowly with organic material and digging it over slowly I think. I reckon I would need a couple of hundred quids worth of top soil to make it properly right and I can't afford that at the moment.
                   
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                  • JWK

                    JWK Gardener Staff Member

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                    You could go down the no-dig route as it less labour intensive. For the price of an electric tiller you could get a delivery of mushroom compost. Pay them a fiver tip and they may hump it into your back garden. Mushroom compost is a good conditioner for clay soil, worms will mix it in over winter. A good covering will suppress weeds too.

                    Just an idea. If you are interested Steve R posted a thread about it.
                     
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