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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The Small Roto-tillers. My Experience

Small Cultivators Honda FG110G.
I bought mine in year 2005 (Honda) and it has to be my most valuable tool in the garden. I use it like a shovel, hoe and rake combined. To plant trees, shrubs and to make a simple hole for some plant, for edging, and working established beds, and for breaking up chunks of earth it cannot be beat. The tine shaft runs about 180 RPM, which is much much faster than larger tillers. Note: No rototiller made will break up sod sufficiently to prevent grass growth. Little strength is required for operation.

http://www.durgan.org/ShortURL/?JHCQU 7 April 2006 Honda FG 110 mini-rototiller cultivating the main vegetable garden.

http://www.durgan.org/ShortURL/?ESYUK 4 May 2006 Adding compostWorking compost into underlying soil.

http://www.durgan.org/ShortURL/?YGOHE 26 May 2008 Planting Redhaven peach Tree.

The Honda FG110 was used to work reasonably good soil, clay with much compost with no rocks. The area worked was over 1000 square feet. This little tiller did a perfect job. If the tiller got clogged with fibrous plant strings, simply removed the outer tines and clear the obstruction within one of two minutes. The tiller engine starts with one or two pulls of the starting cord. It has a four stroke engine-a real plus.

To plant onions, and other vegetables, I removed the outer two tines and pointed the remaining two inwards and got a perfect row for planting about 4 inches wide. I use the tiller by gently pulling backwards without the drag bar. All the work was done at full throttle as it should be with such a small engine. I consider the operation to be effortless, and the result on the soil is simply not achievable with hand tools.

The noise level is for all intents and purposes not noticeable, since it is a four stroke engine. It is well built, and has no appearance of fragility or poor workmanship. I simply carry the tiller from place to place as required.

To use this small tiller amongst large rocks is misuse in my opinion. I have no rocks. Used with common sense, and not attempting to work it in conditions where a larger machine is clearly required this little machine should last a long time.

To make a small bed I remove the sod with a kick sod cutter, spade the compacted earth to the proper depth, then put the tiller to work to condition the soil. On large chunks it jumps around a little and reduces the chunks, but that is to be expected. A larger machine simply kicks large chunks aside, without beating them into small pieces. The result is near perfection.

Worrying about turning a garden into flour like soil is probably little to worry about. I have spend my life trying to get the chunks small enough for a good garden. Usually I have had clay, but by adding compost and composted wood chips the soil is friable.

I also have a larger tiller but hardly use it anymore.

Since writing this summary, I have had the experience of using the much touted Mantis. The Honda is superior in every way, but the Mantis is also a good unit in some applications.

http://www.durgan.org/ShortURL/?IATNA 6 August 2008 Rototiller. Honda versus Mantis.
The double tines on the mantis make removing vines and stones difficult if between the first and second tines, and much effort is sometimes required. The Honda has separate tines, so obstruction removal is relatively easy, by removing the tines from the drive shaft. If the obstruction is between the inner tines and the drive housing, both units are about equal.

http://www.durgan.org/ShortURL/?CDUIT 7 August 2008 Comparison of Honda and Mantis mini-tiller tines.
There are four tines on the Honda, and the outer two can be removed for making a row to plant seeds, or cultivating between close rows. The Mantis width is fixed, due to the tines on each side being one piece. To me this is a distinct advantage for the Honda over the Mantis. Plus most Mantis have a two stroke engine.
 

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My DW Ceashels was dead set against renting a tiller for years. For years, she'd break her back hoeing the garden, getting it ready.

Finally, one year, I got her to agree to spend $20 for a 4 hour, cheapo rental.

20 minutes later, the garden was ready to be planted.

She's now a believer. :D
 

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Come on over and start building then! :D
 

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YAY! so we ARE having a houseguest! LOL

Thanks Russ!

Yeah, I'm a believer. And we do have a raised bed but in Md most of the soil is clay. It was also landscaped so the soil was fairly compacted when we moved in. It is slowly getting there.

I love the pics Durgan and thank you for the tiller write up. I would love to have a garden that size.
 

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Yeah, thanks, sooooooooooooooo much...NOT

;)
 

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Thanks for the information Durgan. When we first created our oversized raised bed garden we rented one of those larger rear tine tillers for $40 from Sat.- Mon. definitely a good deal but we were looking into purchasing a smaller cultivator/tiller for future use in the garden since the larger ones are just too bulky to keep control of. By reading your experience, I will definitely be purchasing a smaller one and looking into the Honda brand.

Thanks again!
 
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