A lot of people, especially as we get a bit creaky in the joints, need a power tool to start or maintain a garden.
The problem with gas-powered tillers or cultivators is two-fold:
First, you have to deal with dangerous gasoline and possibly the need to mix gas and oil. This means more maintenance, especially in the fall and spring. You may eventually find that starting the “labor-saving” machine becomes a major project in itself.
Second, running a more powerful tiller or cultivator can be difficult just because it is so powerful that it is hard to control.
But there is an alternative, one I finally explored after it just got too hard to keep up with the need constantly repair my 15 year-old gas-powered tiller.
Troy-Bilt makes a powerful but lightweight and electric-powered cultivator (TB154) capable of either cultivating between plants or even taking the place of a larger tiller.
This is sold at many stores (both Sears and Lowe’s near me carry it) and the price is the same at about $180 plus tax, and perhaps shipping.
The cultivator comes completely assembled except that you need to attach the handle – this takes about a minute and you don’t need any tool.
To run it all you need is an extension cord. Just plug it in, tilt it back on the wheels so the tines are clear of the ground, and press the interlock on button.
Now lower the moving tines to the ground and hold on tight because it may jump a bit at first. Quickly, however, the cultivator will dig into the ground and does a nice job making a path about nine inches wide and as deep as six inches.
I tried it out on sod and some hard ground. As you can see in the photos, it did a nice job.
I can’t personally report on how long this will last but other users have reported that it will keep performing well for years.
Tines on a cultivator or tiller will clog up with weeds and tough plants but clearing this machine is simplicity itself – again, you won’t need tools; just pull the retaining pin and slide off the blades.
I would certainly recommend this tough little cultivator for many users, especially if you use a bit of common sense and don’t try to force it to do too big a job. There is a thermal cut-out if the motor overheats – just wait till it cools and it will run again.
Of course you need electricity near your garden because the extension cord needs to be kept as short as possible but 100 ft is reasonable if you use a heavy-duty cord.
Disclaimer: None. I bought this machine at retail just as you would and haven’t contacted Troy-Bilt in advance of this review.