Tiller question

Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by KAS, Jul 28, 2014.

  1. KAS

    KAS Monkey++

    Not sure what section to put this in {so please feel free to move it if necessary}

    I got a craftsman rear tine tiller {for free}
    My question is
    Can the tines be sharpened {is it worth it ?}
    I live in Lousiana so i dont think it is possible for the ground to be to hard .
    But is it possible that the tiller just is not powerfull unuff to till the ground ??

    Thanks KS
  2. Gray Wolf

    Gray Wolf Monkey+++

    I had a tiller just like yours, and very hard ground too. I have some suggestions for you.
    First, set the tiller to till as shallow as possible. You may need to go over the same ground several times.
    Second, if the tiller is still not digging, you may need to soak the ground with water to soften it up, then till.
    For my wife's blueberry patch, I had to soak, then till, then soak more, then till deeper many times.
    You might try sharpening the tines of the tiller, just figure out how the tines rotate, then take a file to them yourself.
    KAS likes this.
  3. VisuTrac

    VisuTrac Ваша мать носит военные ботинки Site Supporter+++

    Dual purpose tiller. Get pigs. It tills and you can eat them later.
  4. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn RIP 1/13/21

    If you are trying to till over a grassed area, getting thru the top layer can be a real pain. I would suggest that once you do, you stop and rake the grass debris. Failing to do so, will leave you wondering later why the heck you didn't! It will reduce the weed factor in the garden considerably. Mulch of most any type between rows will also make things much easier for you. BTW, once you have that top layer of grass, sod, and roots gone, it will be much easier to till deeper (say half your maximum depth). I usually do it at half depth completely twice. First long ways completely, then the short way completely. Usually at this point I will fertilize, then set depth to maximum, and retill both directions completely. My rear tine tiller will also plow raised rows with a furrowing attachment which I like to use next. After that I hand rake out the tops of each row from points to aprox one foot wide flat tops. I mulch between rows and plant the center of each of the raised rows. Works good for me and I set up sprinklers to cover the whole shebang. I normally water twice a week for about an hour at least each time. Supposedly this promotes deep roots. It seems to work for me. I hope some of this helps.
    chelloveck, kellory and KAS like this.
  5. KAS

    KAS Monkey++

    thanks people i really appreciate the info...
    I ordered new tines for it so hopefull this help!!!
    Also is there differnt ways i can put the tines on ?
    Because i can tell that the way it is set up now it does it in the " row mound'' style ..
    Thanks again
  6. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    If you have a center gear box/drive then it will only do a row mound. Just go back over the center with one of the tine sets.

    All small tillers on new ground need to be used as described above as in tacmotusn's post.
    Make a pass in a shallow setting.
    Remove the over burden.
    Go back a again with more shallow passes.

    Do not sharpen the tines unless they are pick tine, soon enough they will be sharp as the wear sets in.

    The tines, on average, just scrape the layers of dirt and slowly work down.

    If it bucks and rocks then your depth setting is too deep.

    Go slow do not add weight to the tiller unless you are pushing snow or using pick tines and enjoy the heat and humidity in LA.

    Drink a lot of your favorite beverage and watch those fences and row ends!
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2014
    chelloveck and KAS like this.
  7. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Right on the money gents. One last comment...let the tool work. Never force it, let the tool do the job in it's own sweet time. Forcing it will either hurt you, bend your tines, or damage your gearbox or motor.
    chelloveck, Hammerhead and ghrit like this.
  8. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++

    Several decades ago, well getting close to four actually, I was in the garden tilling business while in high school and college. Tilled hundreds of gardens and it paid for a couple semesters of school and ample adult beverages. I had a big Troy Bilt rear tine tiller. Sharpened tines once or twice but didn't seem to make much difference that I recall nor worth the hassle as they dulled again in little time and grinding them mostly just wore them out sooner. I used them until they broke from wear then replaced them.

    Regarding technique, I generally let the machine do all the work but frankly could under some hard conditions extract more performance with modest down pressure on the handles (20-30 pounds) to control bucking or get it to dig a bit deeper. Ditto the comments about taking multiple passes and work your way down. Run wide open throttle and transmission in slow gear.

    I tilled a lot of new gardens in a couple sub-divisions (word of mouth was extensive). I never bothered raking out grass etc. as once I was tilling down in the 8-10 inch depth the grass was so mixed into the dirt it wasn't really an issue. I did make sure it was mowed short to keep weeds from tangling in the tines. Today, I'd be inclined to also spray the area for a new garden first with Round-up (glyphosate) and then till it in a week or two after it burns down unless "organic" was desired.

    Not sure I understand the comments about mounding. My tiller had the center drive system with the tines coming off each side. Once down to depth and making a couple passes the well pulverized soils would be spread even and very smoothly by the tine shroud and the hinged back flap and by walking to the side there were no foot prints, tire track or anything: fine potting soil consistency 10 inches deep and with the appearance of being raked out smooth. Customers were always quite impressed. I did have a furrowing attachment that could create mounded rows we used for potatos etc. but nothing was mounded unless I used the furrow attachment.

    Have fun.

    Last edited: Jul 28, 2014
    chelloveck, ghrit and kellory like this.
  9. Gator 45/70

    Gator 45/70 Monkey+++

    If its a 4 tine, Remove the outer 2 and give it a pass or two, Ground eating machine !
  10. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++

    You know on a related but different note, I was recently working with a very progressive farmer about some new proprietary technology. He farms 2600 acres and was commenting about some of his recent nitrogen application methodologies. He hasn't tilled (plowed or disced) his fields in 35 years. This fall he going to convert 50 acres to an underground "fertgation" system with a tubing system buried 18 inches down that will fertilize and irrigate his crops and expects to push corn yields to over 325 bu per acre (that is phenomenal!). Precision guidance systems for his tractors, sprayers and harvesters with 2 centimeter accuracy and repeatability is part of the plan. Interesting new technology. So, hmmm... There might be some good lessons to be learned from this for gardens: better yields, less water consumption and underground and more resistant to critters (4 and 2 legged). I will try and learn more. My brother runs a farm consulting business and may know more though his work is more on the business side than the agronomy or technology side.

    Gopherman likes this.
  11. -06

    -06 Monkey+++

    On our 5th year of raised beds and will transplant the strawberry bed to one (4' X 12') this fall. Will be putting in soaker hoses about every foot under the ground cover. Using non permeable cloth with planting "Xs" cut for the plants. We usually add a couple wheel barrows of well rotted horse manure to each bed each year. A friend has a Nitrogen induction system in their watering ;rig. Hopefully by watering the roots we will avoid any mold or other berry problems.
    chelloveck and Airtime like this.
  12. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    Drip , above or below ground is the way to go.

    Did my first 30 years ago on a new orchard, in a dry area, so that I could maintain it by automatic methode. Set up the grid and used a 24/7 timer. That way I could be gone for months and not loose the trees. A plus came with watching the electric bill. One month it went from $12 to $35. Had friends check for bums or alians. Nothing!! So a trip up and I found a lucky cotton tail cut the underground feeder system. What had been a drip now became a flood. The rabbit just moved its home a couple of feet and had running water and a cooler home to boot.

    Mounding comes about with the smaller machines.

    I just replaced my 8hp Horse engine with a new Subru OHV engine. Less noise, easier starting and better fuel rate.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2014
  13. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++

    Very nice. Beats the Tecumseh and BS engines that I've had on my Horses. Wore out an engine on the tiller I had back in the 70's, would have loved today's Honda or Subaru as a replacement. I've read of people using the $200 Chinese engines from Harbor Freight or similar places for replacements... seems rather sacrilegious to put one of those on a TroyBilt Horse. Subaru while likely not American-made is still putting quality on quality. I have a Subaru on my pressure washer and it is very good.

    HK_User likes this.
  14. Gopherman

    Gopherman Sometimes I Wish I Could Go Back to Sleep

    Pen your chickens in the area for about 10 days, they'll eat most of everything then try it again plus they'll fertilize it.
    I bought a nice tiller at Tractor supply, not the best one but it cost about $800.00 after tax, it was totally worth it.
    I live in Mobile, pretty similar climate.
    A friend gave me a smaller old one, the one I bought is much better and went through the sod like butter, lot of stopping to cut the vines out during the first pass, not bad after that.
    I'm planting my second crop now and using the growers cloth.
    This fall planting crimson clover in my 1/4 acre starting in November, 2-3 weeks after I spray roundup on everything.
    I'm sick of fighting weeds its strictly Black Growers cloth and weedkiller next year!
    Growing stuff sure is a hoot though!!
    chelloveck and KAS like this.
  15. EliasStanley

    EliasStanley Monkey

    Last edited: Jan 17, 2015
  16. smithcp2002

    smithcp2002 Monkey+++ Site Supporter++

    Find an old troybilt, new ones not as good, worth every penny.
  17. oldawg

    oldawg Monkey+++

    Yep Troybilt. An older "Horse" model will just about till concrete.
    chelloveck likes this.
  18. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

  19. zombierspndr

    zombierspndr Monkey

    I'll bring back an old thread here cuz it might help someone out.

    Front tine tillers suck. They'll beat you to death, more so if you have really hard ground. Buy a rear tine tiller. Rear tine tillers come in two types, forward rotating tines and counter rotating tines. I have seen a few tillers that had a gearbox which allowed the user to select either mode. Forward rotating tines turn the same direction as the tires. These can be somewhat dangerous if you aren't aware of how to properly use them. With hard pack ground, you should only set the depth to till 2-3 inches deep, or deeper on successive passes, at a time. If you hit a really hard spot, they can and will jump...which can also jerk you up and your legs into the tines.

    Counter rotating tines, just as the name implies, turn the opposite direction. These are much smoother to run than the forward rotating type, and you can set it to till full depth in a single pass with no worries. They don't buck or jump at all in my experience. They also tend to pulverize the soil a lot more.

    I have 4 Troy Bilt Horse tillers and a couple of the Pony models...plus a couple of the 2 stroke cultivators. As far as I know, the only thing better would be a BCS. Of course, a 6 foot PTO driven tiller on a tractor beats all of them. I'm going to perennial systems though, so the tillers will become unnecessary. Hard to use them on Hugelkultur mounds.
    chelloveck and Ganado like this.
  20. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    @zombierspndr I hope you create a thread an post some pics of your hugelkultur .... I've been looking at that for a low water low maintenance method of gardening. Living in the desert, finding the wood for the base is problematic. I was thinking mesquite but haven't spent much time on it.
    chelloveck likes this.
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