Tillers are versatile tools that can be used to break up the soil in your garden so you can plant seeds. Sometimes they are referred to as rotavators or cultivators, but they all work on the same principle. By breaking up the top layer of soil with blades it creates a fine seedbed that allows plants to grow more strongly and evenly.
The type of garden soil will dictate how often you need to till your garden. For instance, gardens located in clay soils should be tilled before each planting season, while gardens in sandier soil can go longer without the need to till. If you are planting a garden where others have grown plants in the past, it is often best to till the area before growing crops again so weed seeds don’t have a chance to sprout.
Tillers use rotary-driven blades or other methods such as auger attachments to break up and loosen compacted soils. They require less effort than shovels or other tools because they do most of the work for you by chopping through roots and other debris, allowing for easier cultivation of your garden beds. However, tillers can be difficult to maneuver if your soil is very hard and various models come with different features that will help make using them more efficient and best suit your needs.
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How Does A Tiller Work:
A tiller works on a simple principle: rotating blades throwing the soil outwards to create a smooth surface. If you have ever used a lawnmower, the rotation of the blade and shooting of clippings will be familiar to you. A tiller uses nearly this exact same mechanism but with an additional wheel attached to the output wheel which rotates and simultaneously shoves the soil outwards to create a smooth surface.
A tiller is attached to the rear of an engine-powered machine, such as a tractor. It allows you to control how deep into the earth you want your cultivator to go. This means that it is possible for you to cultivate different depths without having to change cultivators. It also produces earth in one direction, which makes it possible to get home gardens ready for replanting without having to wait on the soil to dry out or accumulate weeds.
Tillers can be powered by petrol engines, electric motors, or by human power in the case of the ‘push’ tiller (also called a manual rotavator). The latter is mostly used for smaller gardens and allotments where the operator snaps onto the end of a long handle and pushes it through the soil. It can be very hard work depending on the size of your garden, but it does have its benefits. You are in control of how deep you want to go with manual tillers, whereas most petrol-powered ones only allow you to set how much power is applied when ripping through the soil.
Types Of Tillers
Soil tillers are designed to turn over soil in your garden, loosening it up for planting. They are lighter weight than other types of tillers because they aren’t meant for breaking new soil or digging deep into the ground. Electric tillers are ideal for this job since they are well suited to shallow, slow speed work.
There are three basic types of tillers
- Gasoline Powered
Electric Tiller (Price range: $150-$400):
Electrical powered tillers contain an electric motor inside, similar to those found in power tools, which operate on 120 volts of electricity. They typically weigh about sixty pounds and most models can go up to speeds ranging from 800 rpm (revolutions per minute) or less (when digging into the soil) and 600 rpm when tilling for approximately one hour without stopping.
An electric tiller allows you to apply the power directly at the handle, meaning you are cultivating the soil but not moving it. This is especially useful where there are paths or beds to be maintained that are narrow or irregular in shape.
Power tillers only allow the depth of digging to be adjusted before each use and they might dig down to what is considered ‘ideal’ cultivation by many gardeners – around 10 cm (4 inches). This is where the benefit of using a manual tiller comes in, as you can finely tune how deep you want to go.
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A useful characteristic of an electric cultivator is that it has many uses and when used correctly, will not cause damage when cultivating between plants or beds.
Another reason why gardeners prefer electric tillers is that they do not release CO2 and other harmful emissions into the atmosphere, as these machines run on electricity. This means that you can use them to cultivate your garden without worrying about damage whilst also having a positive environmental effect.
The average time needed for an electric cultivator to complete 1 full charge is between 20-30 minutes. The average time needed for a gas cultivator is between 1-2 hours.
Electric tillers are much more convenient because they charge faster and cost less to run. While gasoline-powered machines require you to spend money on gasoline, electric ones do not have this added expense which means that the working time required from your cultivator will be significantly lower.
Gasoline Powered Tiller (Price range: $200-$1,000 or more):
Tillers that use gasoline to power the engine are also common and usually larger. They come with more features than electric tillers, such as adjustable working depth and attachments that help dig into tough soil. However, they do require more upkeep and can be maintenance intensive. Some models feature rear-tine rotation which allows it to move in a counterclockwise direction and rotates less when tilling forward which helps avoid disturbing nearby plants.
Manual OR Crank Tiller
Manual tillers are the most basic and cheapest models available.
A manual/crank tiller is just what it sounds like–a smaller version of a rototiller that uses the energy created by the cranking action of the user. These types of tillers typically have metal tines and small blades, as opposed to larger rototillers that use plastic blades and tines. Manual/ crank tillers are ideal for smaller jobs such as starting a garden or working in raised beds.
They typically have two rotating tines up front that can dig into soil, as well as a wheel on one side which helps move the cultivator. Manual tillers typically require some physical labor to operate and usually must be pushed/pulled through the soil. When compared to other types of tillers, they do not offer as many features or options for working depth or attaching accessories. However, they are easier to use than gasoline-powered models due to fewer parts and no maintenance requirements. Since this type of tiller is not driven by an engine it can be helpful if you would like to avoid using petroleum-based fuels or having additional exhaust emissions in your garden area.
Benefits Of Using A Tiller
Tillers are a great option for people who want an easy way to prepare their garden beds. They make it possible to quickly break up soil or compost, which helps with planting, fertilizing and watering plants. They also leave behind a nice, smooth surface that is great for picking vegetables. Tillers are ideal for tilling in the fall after harvesting your crops so weed seeds don’t have a chance to sprout. Tiller blades are very sharp so they chop through roots easily. Most tillers come with either flat blades or disks to pulverize plant matter on top of the ground as you go along so you can still mulch over it if desired.