Whether you’re replanting a garden from last year, or in the process of putting in a new garden, a rotary tiller is ideal for getting that seedbed broken into the perfect texture for planting. Frontier offers 13 models of rotary tillers with working widths ranging from 42 to 121 inches (1.1 – 3.1 m).
A rotary tiller uses a set of curved tines attached to a rotating shaft that is powered by your tractor’s PTO to dig into your garden soil, churning it into a fine, essentially clod-free seedbed. You can adjust the working depth of your tiller by adjusting the skid shoes. Generally speaking, the larger the tiller the greater the maximum working depth. In a large vegetable garden, however, tilling to a depth of no more than 6 inches should be sufficient.
When it comes to working width, you want a tiller that is at least as wide as the outside measurement of your rear tractor tires. Otherwise, you may end up with some areas in your garden that aren’t tilled as well as others. So make sure you pay attention to each pass, making sure you overlap each one.
If you’re starting a new garden, then ideally you plowed it in the fall and let the overturned soil mellow over the winter. Spring is the time to use the rotary tiller. Since this soil has never been tilled before, you should go over it two or three times until the soil is tilled 4 to 6 inches deep and is free of any large clods.
Whether you’re tilling a new garden or re-tilling one that perhaps hasn’t been planted in awhile, start slowly and don’t till too deep. Going too fast means your tiller won’t have time to grind the soil the way it should. Once you’ve been over the ground a time or two, you can increase your speed and working depth.
The tailgate on your tiller is also adjustable. A more open tailgate will allow larger dirt clods to come out, giving you a slightly coarser soil, and provide a less level surface. The type of soil you have and what you intend to plant will impact how coarse you want the seedbed to be.
And remember, always read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions.