We have actually had a week of unseasonably warm weather in southeast Nebraska. I’m talking 70’s and 80’s, people. A whole week of it! How’s a girl supposed to resist the urge for planting and growing stuff when it’s so beautiful outside? She just can’t. I’m here to tell you it cannot be done. Though prevailing wisdom will definitely say we will definitely have another freeze before Spring is official, the pull of warm breezes, the smell of fresh earth and the sight of “green” popping up all around the landscape pull me into the yard and garden to begin planning for a bountiful harvest, next fall.
It may seem silly to all of you that I would bother putting the effort and time into a garden, knowing that the house is on the market and we’ll be moving. My problem is, I just can’t not do it. I mean, at least on some level, I have to grow SOMETHING. Last year, I tried to keep everything in pots and portable beds, so if we moved, I would just move it all along with us. This year, I want to garden for real. If our house sells before we benefit from all the produce, it will definitely be a little sad, but I still need to do it. Plus, who KNOWS when the house will sell? Right? Gardening is therapeutic and in the process of moving, what could be more necessary than therapy? 🙂
I couldn’t wait another second to get my hands in the dirt and enjoy watching something grow, so this past week, I started some of the seeds for my garden, indoors. I love going to Walmart and buying those starter trays that have the “greenhouse” lid and hockey pucks of potting mix. Just add water and those hockey pucks puff up and expand to four or five times their original size. Then they’re perfect for starting your indoor seedlings and getting them ready to be transplanted when the danger of frost is past. I discovered Sustainable Seed Company, this season, and I’ve added them to my list of trusted organic, heirloom seeds suppliers. The variety available is fantastic, the shipping and customer service was quick and friendly and the germination rate of their seeds has been 100%, so far. It doesn’t get much better than that! They have both vegetable and garden seeds. They even sell seed potatoes!
I planted several varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, plus cantaloupe and watermelon – I planted my Sustainable Seed Company seeds last Wednesday morning. On Friday, several had already germinated and popped through the soil. Monday, five days later, ALL 36 seeds had germinated and some of them are REALLY going to town, now. I used a permanent marker to write the names of each row of plants, right on the lid of the “greenhouse”. What an easy and satisfing way to get my garden started, even if it’s too early to be planting outside!
This weekend, David and I decided it was time to get the garden beds prepped and do a little yard work that we hope will help with the “curb appeal” of our property. I had just received a Mantis 4-Cycle Plus Tiller/Cultivator to review and it was time to put it to the test. The tiller DID need to be assembled, before we could use it and David spent about 20 minutes putting it together. He said the instructions were the easiest to follow of anything he had ever assembled. That’s saying A LOT, because putting something together is LITERALLY one of his least favorite things in the world to do. Not this time! He says it was a breeze!
Besides the garden boxes, there are two areas that we were excited to test the tiller in – a patchy area of the lawn that needs to be over-seeded and a troublesome berm, in the front yard, that has confounded us for the the entire four years we’ve owned this house. We started with the patchy lawn spot. The goal was not necessarily to tear out the grass that was already there, but to loosen the soil around it, enough that it could be overseeded. It’s a good way to fill in the lawn without having to tear everything out and start from scratch. My Mantis 4-Cycle Plus Tiller dug right into this job. I’ll tell you something else, amazing. This is the QUIETEST tiller I have ever been around. I couldn’t believe my ears!
For this overseeding job, we didn’t want to go too deep, just to break up the crusty surface of the soil. This task was so much easier to accomplish with the light-weight Mantis tiller, than with my lumbering tiller from last season. Most times, I felt like my old tiller was dragging me, shaking my arms loose from my shoulders and preventing me from having good control over where it went, not to mention, how deep. With my Mantis, I was easily able to control not only its direction, but how deep it dug down. Because of it’s light weight, if I allowed it too move forward naturally on the winter-hardened soil, it broke through the crust and lightly pulverized a thin top layer. If I instead, held the tiller back, allowing it to move ahead more slowly, setting in each spot a few seconds longer, the sharp, powerful blades cut more deeply and turned over more soil. The longer I let it sit in one spot the deeper it worked. It was so simple! I couldn’t believe how much control I had over this wonderful new machine!
The central landscaping feature in our front yard is a berm, that is raised about two feet above the rest of the yard on the front side. It has been a taunting garden fail that returns to goad me every spring. At some point, prior to our buying the property, it was filled with an invasive ground cover that choked out everything else ever planted there. Even new plants I tried to add, could not survive the strangling of this ground cover. Nothing I tried had been able to kill it; and spading and digging were not enough to remove the matted network of ever-spreading roots from this awful plant. This week, all that is over! Thanks to my new Mantis 4-Cycle Plus Tiller/ Cultivator! I’m not gonna lie. I’m in “garden tool love”. 🙂
Remember when I said that by holding the tiller in one spot, we were able to allow it to cut more deeply and turn over more soil? Well, that’s exactly what we did in this berm. Because of the size and shape of the berm and the inability to have super-fine maneuaverability and control, we were never able to use my old tiller in this bed. For my new Mantis tiller, it was not only no problem, it solved my four-year-long dilemma! The matted network of roots that my spade and shovel couldn’t clear away, efficiently, was cut through and chopped up with hardly any effort, using the 4-Cycle Plus Mantis Tiller/Cultivator. The only area I left untouched was where I know there are some mini iris bulbs planted. Everything else was tilled. I was able to rake away the roots and debris that were cut, leaving me with gorgeous soil to plant fresh, new color and texture to show off our front yard. There is SIX INCHES of loose, finely worked soil on the top of my berm, now! I couldn’t be more impressed. The vast difference between the photo of where David is just starting in the berm, and this almost finished photo, will hopefully give you an idea of what an effective tool this Mantis tiller will be around your yard and garden.
The 4-Cycle Plus Mantis Tiller/ Cultvator has a 25cc 4-cycle Honda engine that doesn’t require any mixing of gas and/or engine oil. That was a HUGE plus for me! The unique serpentine tines spin up to 240 RPM, which is controlled by the variable speed throttle in the comfort grips of the handle. A built-in carry handle makes it simple to lift and carry the 24-pound tiller anywhere you may want to use it. The engine can be cut, instantly, with the flip of a switch and the tiller operates much more quietly than others I have used. It was effective at both light surface work and at deep tilling an area that needed to have everything removed, so we could start over. It was easy for me to operate and to control. Plus, there are a multitude of add-on accessories like plows, planters, dethatchers and edgers that would increase the number and types of jobs the tiller can perform. In short, I couldn’t be more pleased to add the Mantis 4-Cycle Tiller/ Cultivator to my arsenal of essential gardening tools! I think you’re going to love it, too!
GIVEAWAY: Mantis is generously sponsoring a giveaway, so that one lucky Busy-at-Home reader will be able to win a Mantis 4-Cycle Plus Tiller Cultivator of their own! Check out the Mantis website to answer a simple question. Comment on this post with your answer. Register your comment in the Rafflecopter form. Voila! You’re entered!
With FIVE different models to choose from, Mantis has a tiller to fit every gardener’s needs and style. Check out all five and in a comment on this post, tell me which Mantis tiller would be best for you and what you’re excited to plant, this spring.
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