The Q&A Archives: Are Tillers Necessary?

Question: I notice that many of my neighbors use tillers, even for small gardens. My plot is under 10 x 10, and a tiller seems expensive for such a small space. Is it better? Can I achieve the same results with manually turning the soil?Also, what is the advantage of making little raised furrows? All of my water just runs off.

Answer: Tillers are nice to have and do a good job when you have a large place. My garden is about 3 times as large as yours and I use my trusty shovel. With a small tiller, usually you cultivate down 6 to 8 inches deep. With my shovel, I cultivate 10 to 12 inches or more.

Raised beds or furrows are needed when the water table is high or the soil is very heavy--this helps with drainage. If you have light, sandy soil, make a trench and plant in the trench instead. You can make the trench as deep or as shallow as needed depending on the size of the seed you are planting. As the plants grow, you can pull a little soil up around them.

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