Phoenix Gardening Tip: The Garden Tiller/Cultivator

Earthworks Tiller/CultivatorIn a previous post, I went all ga-ga for my new Earthwise tiller/cultivator…and for good reason.  A few days after our purchase, we went to town on our garden and tilled up almost 300 sq ft of garden in just a little over an hour!  (Seriously?  And I was gonna do this with a shovel???)

Some tips…as you know, our Phoenix desert soils are not like the blowing sands of the great Sahara Desert.  Far from it.  We run the gamut from clay to caliche, making the soil hard, dry and compacted. While our native and desert-adapted xeriscape plants love it, our shovels do not.  So unless you’ve prepared your soil by wetting it first, you might as well start digging into your sidewalk.

To use this tiller, and probably others, your best bet is to get the soil good and damp first.  I like to use soaker hoses and leave them on overnight.  After wetting it, make sure to test the soil first.  If it’s too wet, it’ll just gum up the blades.

I also like that this little tiller is pretty light and there’s a sturdy handle which makes it easy to pick up and tote around.  But because it’s so lightweight, it can also get a little jumpy and pop up if you run into something underground.  It’s a little disconcerting at first, but just apply some weight to it and it should be fine.  (I have a bad habit of gardening in flip-flops, so make sure to wear shoes and safety gear.)


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