Master Gardening Tips & Tricks with Mellow Road CBD

Gardening – Rototillers & Soil Quality

Gardening Tips & Tricks

Gardening – Rototiller Options & Soil Quality, plus a BONUS: Pro Tips to help you garden smart

We at Mellow Road all grew up in a small Midwestern town of about 9,000 souls. In a town like ours, adult-learning classes will pop-up during all the seasons of the year. It might be something at the community center, a nearby community college, or a district high school. A certain segment of the population will register for the class ‘just because’. Small towns offer up a certain ‘wow, look at that!’ factor when it comes to the latest new-fangled ideas (even if it’s 3 decades after everyone else, or at least that’s the perception). It’s really a combination of factors. It’s because we in the heartland finally learn what the latest trends are in education, housing, employment, and society 30 years after they’ve been proven out and have become social-gospel.  Would you happen to know anybody like this? Well, my parents are in this ‘elite’ group of learners. Even, after I moved out and got married, my folks took the coursework to become Master Gardeners. It’s not just tuition and coursework and bam, you’re a Master Gardener. There’s a test. My mom commented on the coursework and exam as ‘not a blow off’ ordeal. So good job Mom and Dad!

I’ve always told them that they’re above average. There’s a preserve down in Ann Arbor called Mathai Gardens, where my folks volunteered as guides for visitor groups.

Start with good soil. If you don’t have viable soil, you have a bit of work ahead of you. If you’re starting a garden, especially one where there has never been one, the quality of your soil matters. Maybe you’re lucky to have moved into a house where gardening was done before. In that case, you likely have a minor soil turning exercise to get yourself up and gardening, just till/dig and turn it over with a shovel.

Pro TIP: Borrowing a rototiller is twice as smart as owning one!

  • Soil needs to be workable.
  • Soil needs to be moderately free of clay.
  • Soil needs to be ‘airy’.
  • Soil must be rich in nutrients. 
  • Soil should be conserved and protected.

Smaller Gardens:

As long as you aren’t farming acres, the best way to improve soil quality and loft is to either buy topsoil, or an augmented soil product that you’d pick up at your local farm store. I say this from experience, use potting soil that also has fertilizer added in. Going this route is a great option and one that I would recommend, especially for very small gardens, pots or beds. 

For bigger gardens:

Pro TIP: If you have a garden of significant size, I highly recommend horse manure, especially if it’s free. Even if you have to pay for it, get your hands on it and add it to the garden soil. 

Our daughter and her husband built some raised beds and just put horse manure in. I could not believe the vigor and  size of their plants were remarkable. It’s good to talk to neighbors about gardening too, and the older the neighbor, the better. If they garden or grew up gardening (which almost everyone used to do regardless of status or geo-location). A long time ago, having your own garden was the only way to have fresh tomatoes, beans, peppers, and so on. Most people had chickens too, but that has nothing to do with rototillers, unless you have chickens and transport all of your chicken shit dust to the garden. Now, this shit burns the eyes, but it is also bursting with nitrogen. 

Hears a little personal story about chicken shit and gardening:

When we got married, we were members of my wife’s church, one that she’d been raised in and around. I loved the pastor. Bob Berkey was gentle but fierce, and always compassionate, plus he was an old farmer from Indiana. My wife told Bob I was going to buy some chickens. Apparently, she was pretty freaked out by the idea, but it’s something I was pretty interested in doing, and since my kindergarten teacher let me take a chick home.  My wife being smarter than I, she pulled the old ‘I’ll fix him’ dirty trick, in complete collusion with Bob. Well, what happened when those two ‘hatched’ their plan after a good bit of chatting? Later, Bob invited me over to see his chickens, and I was so excited. Well, it wasn’t an honest to goodness ‘have an afternoon of leisure’ together, nope. Bob engaged me later and invited me over for a looksie (at his egg laying birds), and I ended up in the middle of the coop with a shovel in my hand and my eyes watering. I was sort conned idid the yearly removal of droppings from the chicken shed. It was over a foot thick in some areas. I was a little unsettled, as I’d been breathing shit-dust voluntarily for an extended period of time. Shit-dust like that will make your eyes water, but that is the prize. It’s the ammonia in the chicken dung that we were mixing into his huge garden. I really didn’t even know what was going on, and I blew shit-dust out my nose and coughed it up for several days. My wife thought it would take care of my urge to have our own chickens. It didn’t. We’ve had chickens since, on more than one occasion. In my 50’s now, I really don’t want chickens running around anymore, and I don’t feel remotely bad about it. 

Digging & Tilling: Rototillers & Shovels

Rototiller: The rototiller is a great invention. Most likely, you’ll be tilling because most of us want to pick the exact and ideal time to capture maximum sun light. The rototiller was invented by Arthur Clifford Howell, down under in Australia, in 1912. Even if you have a rototiller, it doesn’t mean that it’s the only way to start a garden. Our family never had a tiller growing up. We had a pretty small garden, but we just used our dirt shovel to turn it over.  

Rototillers Are Optional, Really

In consumer markets, there are two basic types of rototillers: Rear Tine and Front Tine

Rear Tine Tiller – Yes, please, can I have another? 

Rear Tyne Tillers are designed with an engine-forward configuration. The tines are along the ground, down between the engine and the operator’s feet. For safety, they have a metal shield covering the rotating tines. It does a great job, with much smoother operation than a front tine design. Tons of brands exist, but to get a real forged steel-bodied tiller, look for names like Troy Built or BCS, or brands that these two companies manufacture for. 

Front Tine Tiller – I’d rather use a shovel, seriously. It’s like wrestling an elephant. 

Front tine tillers suck, especially if you are tilling previously undisturbed soil. I’m not sure what soil layers are like around the rest of the country; we have multiple types of clay deposited in multi-foot thick layers, and roots. Roots? No tiller can handle bigger roots. Use a small saw, axe, or hatchet to remove anything thicker than a few millimeters. It takes at least twice as long to get the same soil structure as that which has been cultivated with a rear-tine machine. Seriously, I’d rather use a shovel. Such tillers are a giant pain in the arse. The front tine tillers I’ve used over the years look remarkably like snow blowers. As for any score ranking, the amount of pleasure associated with working the soil with one of these contraptions would be zero dollars. 

Pro TIP: To improve wet or poor soil quality, add peat moss, it will absorb water and bulk up your soil. 

If you do use petrol/gasoline/diesel fueled machinery, it’s time to be that guy, Mr. Safety Stanley. Always read the operating instructions, even if you’ve rototilled before. People can and do get hurt using these consumer tillers, so following all precautions is critical. I’ve rototilled, and I’ve used shovels. For me, I like quiet. I like clean air. I love hearing a shovel pierce the soil, and hearing the sound of dirt being thrown on top of other dirt. If you do go engineless, you don’t need earplugs or headphones because you’ll hear birds chirping, and all the other sounds of nature. Spring peepers will wake up soon! For those that don’t know, Spring Peepers are the frogs you hear going GONZO in the springtime (in the Midwest at least). 

Pro TIP: You absolutely must have a compost pile, even if it’s just in a 5-gallon bucket. Composting is so fascinating because we’re actually creating soil from leaves, grass, weeds, and any plant material that is NOT woody. Small wood sticks (1 or 2 mm thick) are ok to put in the compost pile, but anything larger makes it difficult to maintain the turning (I like to use a pitch fork for that job) that needs to be done every so often. A compost-specific blog is in the works, so keep your eyes peeled and enjoy! 

At Mellow Road CBD, we understand the significance of quality ingredients, whether it’s for your garden or your wellness routine. Just as soil nourishes plants, our premium CBD products nourish your body, offering a natural solution for overall well-being.

As you embark on your gardening journey, consider incorporating our CBD products into your daily routine to promote balance and vitality. With the best CBD products in Michigan, sourced from high-quality hemp and crafted with care, Mellow Road CBD is here to support you every step of the way.

Happy gardening and here’s to a flourishing season ahead!