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  tillers for gardens
From: Lester Kallus <lkallus at earthlink.net> on 1997.05.04 at 09:42:27(707)
I know the following message isn't specifically about Aroids, but it is
about gardening so that I can grow some large aroids outside.

It's finally spring here on Long Island and it's time to set up the new
beds. This year, I want to have some large areas of colocasias, alocasias
and caladiums with my few Amorphophallus mixed in.

Long Island garden soil is essentially sand with a couple bits of organic
material. My landscaper dropped off a huge mound of oak leaf compost and
I'd like to mix that in. Tropicals usually do great in it. I tried using
my trusty old electric cultivator (Black & Decker) and got bored with the
slow progress. It works but it takes a toll on the motor and doesn't do a
very deep job (frankly, only about 3 or 4 inches at best) Instead, I want
to get a small, yet powerful gas-powered tiller.

Does anyone out there have experience with the Mantis? I've compared that
to what little I can learn about Troy-bilts. It appears that the Mantis is
perhaps more appropriate for my purposes (in size).

Does anyone know of others that are the size of the Mantis?

(I saw the mantis at: http://www.mantisgardentools.com and believe it's
the same as the one Sears sells under it's Craftsman label)

From: Tom Croat <croat at mobot.org> on 1997.05.04 at 21:34:29(713)
Less: I own a Mantis and it is a fantastic tiller for its weight. It
bounces all over the place but you can control it well by guiding it to
the left or to the right. The tines reverse easily for weeding. I will
like and and I believe it is well worth the money. I have a big
Troy-built walk behind for deep tilling lots of space and that is more
convient for doing the whole garden in the spring but once things come
up then it is too big and awkward for any cultivation whereas the Mantis
can be used effectively in small cramped quarters.
From: Barbara_M._Humphreys at atlmug.org (Barbara M. Humphreys) on 1997.05.05 at 21:46:18(720)
The best tiller I have ever had is a Honda F401AD. It was designed for flower
beds and light landscaping when it was discovered that many employees were
women and the larger ones were too heavy to manipulate. It is a size larger
than the smallest Honda, which is comparable to the Mantis. I have found the
Mantis is good only in beds that have been previously tilled. At least here in
Georgia where red clay abounds and has to be amended for beds to work out.
I've been overjoyed at the ease and size and work of this small tiller. Hope
this helps.
Barbara M. Humphreys

From: MJ Hatfield <oneota at ames.net> on 1997.05.06 at 05:48:52(721)
Just one more comment on tillers?
I have a silly blue and yellow Garden Weasel. It works wonderfully; no
noise, no gasoline, no oil, no filter, and if I stretch just a bit, no
compacting of soil. Even my 74 year old mother loves hers.
MJ Hatfield

From: canbya <canbya at snet.net> on 1997.05.06 at 07:11:04(722)
I too have a Mantis which I "need" every spring. It is the best tool for
incorportating additions into the soil. It also is great for fluffing up
mounds-essential in my heavy, wet CT soil. In this area the soil is also
full of stones which embed themselves in the tines. (The tines are
guaranteed for life-I am on my second pair.) Vines too will clog the
works. I keep a fish-tailed weeding tool nearby and declog as necessary.

Unfortunately the Mantis is useless for starting new beds in my soil,
even in grass. The vegetation, combined with the muck, is just too much
for it. After I gave away my old standard tiller (my back demanded it), I
started covering proposed new beds with black pastic for a season. Then
the Mantis could sink in its teeth. I don't know if your sandy soil would
present the same problems. Weight was an important factor in my choice.

For sources other than Sears, look at Gardener's Supply Co in Burlington
VT 800-863-1700. I purchased my Mantis from them, but noticed they now
carry one of their own.
Elisabeth Harmon

From: Lester Kallus <lkallus at earthlink.net> on 1997.05.07 at 08:30:39(725)
Thanks for the info. I got it and am delighted. It's turning the soil
over so easily that it should be a breeze keeping the beds in good shape
this summer. Until now I've used a tiny electric unit made by Black &
Decker (which they've since discontinued). I had always shied away from
gas units because of their maintainance. Then when I got a large
chipper/shredder, I realized that I'd have to go with gas units if I wanted
real power.
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