Roto-tilling and chickens.

We rented a roto-tiller a few weeks ago. We wanted to turn the soil over and that is what we have always done. We usually rent it late on a Saturday and return it early Monday. The rental shop only charges us the day rate, so we can take our time using it.

I had to lock the chickens out of the garden. They love to help with all our gardening projects but I didn’t think a 9 H.P. gas engine attached to rotating steel blades and chickens would mix well.

The roto-tiller is much louder than I remember and not as easy as I thought it should be. It’s gas powered and self propelled, so it should just about do the job while I sat in the shade, sipping iced-tea. I spent most of my time trying to keep up with the machine. It wasn’t long before I was out of breath. It was quite difficult to keep it going in the right direction and just about impossible to turn around. It only took about 5 minutes to realize that wasn’t the way I wanted to do that project. Unfortunately, it was about another hour before actually put the roto-tiller back on the trailer and turned it off. After I had broken the on-off switch.

Even though I only used the roto-tiller for about an hour, the rental shop wouldn’t give me a break on the rental. With the rental price, the time it took to pick up and return and the hour I used it, I had 8 hours worth of my time invested in the work that was done.

I have spent time on and off, turning the soil by hand. It is a slower process, but the chickens and I are happier with the results. I can start when I want, stop when I want and do just what I want. Since I am working by hand, I can rake out the grass and take it out of the garden, rather than just turn it back into the soil. The chickens love all the bugs that turn up. They are glad to be able to help.

I mentioned in my plant light post that we missed the opportunity to plant garlic and onions. Well, I discovered garlic and onions that had over-wintered and were doing fine. I transplanted the garlic. There are about 16 plants. I would have missed these if I was roto-tilling, or worse, I would have discovered them only after it was too late.

Now, this is the way to garden.

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