DIY Basics: Essential Guide To Cultivators
Tillers cut through soil to aerate and mix through organic material such as the leaves and branches you shredded after pruning them. Tillers are perfect for starting new garden beds or reviving old ones.
Improving the quality of a new garden bed can take hours of slaving away with a mattock and hoe to aerate the soil and mix in organic matter.
A power tiller makes the job faster, and it’s an easy way to add compost or mulch, increasing drainage and water-holding capacity.
Tilling also makes the soil more permeable, encouraging root growth and attracting microorganisms and worms that leave nutrients in the soil.
DON’T USE A TILLER in wet soil as it will clod up and dry in thick crusts. If a ball of soil sticks together when dropped, it is too wet to till.
Ensure the soil is deeply tilled. If only the top surface is ploughed, a hard layer forms below. This will impede roots and reduce moisture intake, leading to a lower crop yield.
In addition to mixing in compost and the output from your shredder, apply plenty of organic matter over the top of freshly tilled soil as it helps retain moisture and reduces weeds.
Keep plants growing throughout the year to avoid having to prepare the soil from scratch again in spring.
Choosing a tillers
There are many varieties of cultivator available, and they’re all capable of different workloads. Before selecting a tiller, consider how large an area you will be planting, and how often you are likely to use it.
MINI CULTIVATORS are the smallest and lightest type, designed to remove weeds and turn soil in average-sized domestic garden beds. Their manoeuvrability makes them ideal for small spaces, but they are not suited for heavy workloads.
REAR-TINE TILLERS are the largest, offering a tilling width of up to 700mm. Usually self-propelled, they feature either synchronous tines that spin in the same direction as the wheels, or counter-rotating tines that turn in the opposite direction.
FRONT-TINE TILLERS are less expensive than rear-tine machines and are generally pushed by the operator rather than being self-propelled. They feature similar power and tilling capacity to rear-tine models, and are great for larger planting areas.