Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Getting Back to Gardening

Even though we're still getting rain here, the ground is actually draining well. I wouldn't call the soil dry, but it's dry enough to work with it a little. Last week I got a couple of mornings where I could mow the weeds and grass down real close in the garden areas. Mower height set on 6.....that weedy stuff is tall! Next pass through, height set at #3. I'm still harvesting trashcanfuls of clippings! Final pass through with the mower, height level 1, as short as it will go. Yes, I had to mow the grass in stages. 

Luck was with me last week because the next day was bright sun for a few hours. Ah-ha. Quick go out and spray my ag vinegar/oil/soap combo to "kill" the stubble. Not all the growth actually gets killed, but it does get burned and turn brown. 

Next, wait a couple days and then till the weeds in. If I till 4"-5" down, just about all the weeds get killed. Only the Bermuda grass survives, and that I will hand dig out once I see it sprouting. 

Above, the brown dead looking stuff is the stumble that I'm tilling over. Since the soil is moist, the stubble tends to bind up on the tiller blades. I have to take a knife and clean off the tiller tines about every three foot width of garden bed. It only takes a minute. 

Now it's time to spread a layer of compost, slightly cultivate it in with the tiller (just the top couple inches is all that is needed) and it's ready for planting. Incredible! I'm actually getting back to growing something again. 

Oh, did you notice the new rototiller? It's actually a mini tiller/cultivator. This one is a Mantis. I've had Mantis gas tillers before and was happy with the results I got using them. Oh, I've used big Troybilt tillers before, but I now find that I do just fine with the mini tiller. Since many of my beds are raised or irregular shaped, the Mantis is easier to use. 

I switched to using an electric tiller for a few reasons. The newer gas models seem harder to keep running. Is it me, or have the engines changed over the years? I find that they are a bear to keep running right and are more difficult to start than they use to years ago. At least it seems that way. I'm no longer interested in fighting with those little engines, so I switched to electric. 

How to run an electric tiller out in the field? I just bring my small generator out. The main thing is to use a short 12 gauge extension cord. If you use the wrong cord, an electric tiller will quit running. They can sense the problem. By the way, the Honda generator surely isn't the cheapest small generator to buy. Yes, it's pricy. But I opted for the Honda because....
...it's easy enough for me to carry
...it's quiet. That's a big consideration. 
...it's reliable. Another big consideration. 
...there's a person here that can work on them if they break, another big consideration. 
I've seen neighbors throw away one small generator after another. Those loud noisy, but cheap,  buggers seem to last one year or two. The Honda is quiet and lasts many years without breaking. For me, it's worth the purchase price. 

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