I have been gardening for a long time and I have developed my own system that really works for me. Part of the success I have had with my system is due to the rototiller that I use and the way I use it. I explained a lot about my system in an instructable I made back in 2007 called Shred and Till
When I first started working my bit of ground I decided to spend the extra money and get a good heavy duty rototiller. I killed a cheap regular one in just a couple of years and still never got things done the way I wanted. So in 1984 I bought a Troy Built Horse tiller with an 8 HP engine. Over the years It has taken all the abuse I could throw at it and come through fine. In addition to the tiller, I bought a "hiller furrower" attachment which really cuts planting time and also saves work by simplifying watering. I trench a furrow and drop things like seed potatoes in the furrow and then rake it to cover it up. I flood water the furrows which saves water and helps to keep weed growth down. It is a great system and I have been producing way more produce than what I can use from a relatively small piece of ground.
After my kids left home and my grocery demands dropped a lot I was still harvesting a big bounty of fresh garden produce that was way more than I could use. Why not just cut back on the garden you might ask? Well, its complicated, everything has become intertwined. The garden is where I get rid of all my shredded paper, leaves, compost, sawdust, basically anything that can be composted. The only garbage I send to the landfill is stuff that can't be burned or composted. I actually have no garbage collection. In addition a lot of my watering goes to the garden, which also just happens to give me my air conditioning, which is explained in my most popular instructable on free air conditioning
. In addition gardening is actually pretty healthy for a person, outside work is good for you. And finally I have found gardening is also very rewarding in another way.
I tried selling the extra produce that I grow but it is just a big hassle doing that. I found it to be a lot more fun and rewarding to just give it away. I have actually developed a sort of delivery chain through which I have donated to people in several cities. Many people don't know where it comes from but sometimes I do get feed back through my distributors. Last year I had a huge bumper crop of potatoes (I planted 6 different varieties) which ended up being a bounty for many other people too. In the late fall I received a thank you note that was relayed to me. It was from one of the people who had received some of my potatoes. She was a single mom with a little daughter who had just been to the grocery store shopping. Her girl had asked her if they could buy potatoes because she really liked them. The mom said they didn't have the money for it then but she would put it on her list. Well, as good timing would have it, when they got home they found a big box of gourmet potatoes sitting on their door step, left for them by one of my "distributors". So they got to have farm fresh potatoes that were better than what you can get in the store. I was happy to know I helped a little.
However, due to an unfortunate event it looked like this might all come to an end because ----
SOME LOWLIFE actually stole my 28 year old 350 pound rototiller right out of my garden last fall.
I priced a new one, they cost around $2500 plus shipping and that is beyond my budget at the moment. So it was looking questionable as to whether the garden would be continuing on.
And then I found a tiller.
I worked cases for the Census Bureau for several years and was doing so last winter. So I was driving down a gravel road out in the middle of rural Montana and some old farm buildings caught my eye. I always take my camera with me and sometimes stop to shoot pictures of the rural landscape. So I went down the long driveway that had not been used in a while and started shooting pictures. And I almost fell over this big Troy Built Horse tiller in the weeds next to an old wind mill generator. It had been there for a LONG time, but that was good because that meant nobody wanted it. The house was long vacant also, it looked like only the fields were being used for wheat which is not uncommon. The productive land is leased out and the junk is just farmed around.
When I got home I looked up the satellite pictures in Google Earth. I often used it in my Census work. A lot of people don't realize that there is a feature where you can look at the older satellite pictures. You can roll back time so to speak. I looked at the older images and it looked like there had been no activity at the farm site since 2006 and I saw no trace of any garden as far back as I could go which was 1996. So chances are that tiller was sitting there outside in the elements for all those years. I was hopeful!