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Gardening Tools: About the Hand Tiller

Of all the available gardening tools, hand tillers (which are also sometimes referred to as hand cultivators) are one of the best implements for loosening and aerating garden soil. Depending on the quality of your soil, it may also be necessary for you to mix peat moss, mulch, or fertilizer into your garden soil. A tiller makes improving soil quality faster and easier than using a shovel or other garden tool to turn the soil by hand. Tillers also make an excellent tool for removing weeds from between rows throughout the growing season.

Hand Tiller 1Although the appearance of your hand tiller will vary depending on its specific make, model, and manufacturer, most hand tillers consist of three basic parts: a set of prongs or spikes, a bladed wheel, and a long handle. The prongs or spikes help the gardener dig the tiller into the dirt while the wheel turns and mixes the soil. The long handle allows a gardener to work standing up as opposed to kneeling or bending down. Some hand tillers lack the bladed wheel and thus more closely resemble a garden fork. My hand tiller was handed down to me from my grandparents.

Using a Hand Tiller

Before using your hand tiller to till your garden, first prepare the soil by cleaning up any garbage, sticks, weeds, and old plants from the garden surface. Insert the prongs or spikes about six to eight inches into the dirt, and push tiller forward across your garden. The bladed wheel will turn the soil over and mix in any additions like peat moss or fertilizer. If your hand tiller is bladeless, insert the spikes into the soil, and use a twisting motion to mix and turn over the dirt. To use your tiller as a weed remover, plant rows slightly wider apart than the width of your tiller, and then simply till between the rows.

Buying a Hand Tiller

If you are in the market for a hand tiller, the first thing to consider is the size of the garden that you wish to till. Larger tillers work best for tilling large gardens while smaller tillers work better for small, compact gardens. When shopping for a hand tiller, choose one that is sturdy and well-built. Garden tools that come with manufacturer warranties tend to be of better quality than less expensive no-name brands. You might also consider buying an older used hand tiller. The antique hand tiller (see picture) that I use in my own garden belonged to my grandmother and possibly also my great grandmother. All metal tillers tend to be sturdier although ones with wood handles can also be of high quality.

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Hand tillers may be purchased at most gardening stores that sell garden equipment including the large chain stores like Menards, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Ace Hardware. Smaller and local garden stores may also carry hand tillers. Buying a hand tiller online is also possible; however, it is difficult to judge sturdiness without having the tool in hand. Antique and garage sales are good places to find used and older hand tillers for sale. Always hold the tiller as you would when gardening to make sure it is a good fit for you before buying.

Hand tillers or hand cultivators are gardening tools that are useful for loosening and aerating garden soil as well as for removing weeds from between rows of plants. Available at most gardening stores, hand tillers are an easy-to-use must-have garden tool for any gardener.

Hand Tiller 2 Hand Tiller 3

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References

Dark Dirt – Hand Tiller: http://www.darkdirt.com/tillers/hand-tiller.php
Garden Tillers and Cultivators: http://www.lawnmania.com/tillers-cultivators/
Hand Tiller – A Hand Tiller Will Put You in Touch with Your Garden: http://www.tillersreview.com/hand-tiller.html
Small Garden Tillers: http://landscaping.about.com/od/helpforconsumers/gr/garden_tiller.htm

Image Credits

Hand Tiller 1 © 2010 James Johnson
Hand Tiller 2 © 2010 James Johnson
Hand Tiller 3 © 2010 James Johnson

Written by Heather Johnson

Heather is a writer, librarian, linguist, wife, and mother who loves her husband, children, dogs, and cats. She has a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in creative writing and master's degrees in library and information science and English studies with a concentration in linguistics.

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