I think we all start off with great ambition on every new project. Or at least I do. And then sometimes reality comes along and bites me in the ass. So it was with the great dirt moving project of 2008. When we first started the garden project I was taking my Organic Gardening class through Seattle Tilth and reading all kinds of gardening books.
All of them focus on the “evils” of using a roto tiller or tractor and why you should do it all by hand. But here’s what I’ve figured out – most of them are talking to gardener’s with fairly small or tiny plots. Most of them are not talking to someone that’s got more than 1700 square feet of fresh garden that needs to be tilled and amended and tilled again before you can even start to think about planting.
After a lot of hours of working on turning in the compost and breaking up the last of the half-decomposed sod by hand. And even having my mom help me put in 2 rows while they were visiting, I cried uncle. I decided that if my grandfather, who firmly believed in things like compost and mulch and lots of healthy sun and water could use a roto tiller, than so could I.
Of course I decided that very late on a Saturday and the local rental place was already closed. Sunday Mike and I searched for somewhere to rent one, but the closest place to rent a tiller was the Home Depot in Mt. Vernon. That’s a 50 mile round trip that I would have to make twice. And most likely I would have had to pay for two days of rental at $90 a day since it was already noon and they close their rental counter at 4:00 on Sundays.
What was a girl to do? Why grit her teeth and buy a house warming present of course. Right?!? Actually we worked the numbers and realized that if I rented a tiller for 2 days now and again for 2 days in the fall and then 2 days next year, I would basically have paid for my own tiller. Mike can be quite the enabler when he wants to be.
And I have to say that it was well worth it. We bought the smallest rear tine Troy-Bilt tiller that they make so that I’m able to man-handle it myself. And while roto tilling is itself exhausting, using it for 7 hours last weekend meant that I was able to do most of my spring planting over the past weekend.
So, if you’re a die hard gardener, feel free to throw tomatoes at me. But me, I’m really glad I admitted defeat and got on with my garden. And so are my poor wrists that were starting to get carpal tunnel from moving all that dirt.