Garden tractors for GARDENING

mailman22(6)March 13, 2008

I have been scouring the web looking for sites on using the garden tractor as a "garden tractor". Very , very few.

Is this a dying practice? I want to use my tractor as much as possible to save time and manpower in my garden. but practices such as making rows and beds and such are not shown much, or at least I am not finding them.

I am wondering how many of us use our garden tractors for such purposes and also would like links to sites where it is shown in video if possible. (or pics would be ok too.)Also, show what you have done.


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I think gardening as a whole is decreasing. Most peoples lives are so busy anymore that the convenience of going to the grocery store to pick up a head of lettuce wins over plowing a garden, planting, weeding, fertilizing, fighting off bugs and animals, watering, etc.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2008 at 1:49PM
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davidandkasie(Z8 MS)

i use mine for true gardening work. i have a 12" moldboard plow, disc, and tine cultivator, and multiple tow behind attachments. going to go pick up a new(old) MTD with a tiller attached this weekend.

google tractor forum and you will find some other sites besides just this one. sorry i cannot be more specific, the owners here bar you mentioning other sites.

Brinly-hardy and other manufacturers of attachments have some demo videos, try their sites as well.

to form my rows i plow up the ground, then disc it up. then i spinthe blades onthe disc and make several passes throwing the dirt inwards. after 5-10 passes at most, i have a row that is about 2ft wide by 12in or so high by 100' long. move over several feet and repeat. by keeping at least 4 ft between the rows, i can use the tine cultivator to get the small weeds between the rows.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2008 at 5:47PM
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I have a hiller/furrower that was used to attach to a troy-bilt tiller. I was hoping to use that for making my beds/rows but I haven't come up with a way to attach it to my tractor. I have a sleeve hitch as well as the standard hitch.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 13, 2008 at 8:45PM
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Mailman, davidandkasie pretty well described the procedures. But I'm not really sure what information you're looking for - other than web addresses, which I can't provide.

My first question is "Do you have a garden (not lawn) tractor?" Other questions: What attachments do you have? How large a garden are you planning?

As to the TroyBilt hiller/furrower, my guess is that you're going to have to fabricate some sort of bracket to attached it to. I think that's going to take some experimentation - hope you have a welding machine.

I have a compact utility tractor with moldboard, discs, and cultivators. My planting area varies from year to year, but sometimes runs around 3,500 square feet. Despite all that tractor equipment I have, I do virtually all the gardening with a TroyBilt Horse tiller, and a small Honda tiller. This causes more actual physical work than the tractor would require, but simply works better for me ... and I'm not a youngster (age 65 is back there in my rearview mirror).

Now, if you're talking about gardening a acre or more, a good, stout tractor is the way to go.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 3:20AM
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Small Garden Tractors are so termed because they can handle some ground working tools, such as: tillers. turning plows, discs, tine culivators, etc. They can be put to good use in the spring and fall to plow and prep the garden plot. But then, after planting, if you want to continue to use the "Garden Tractor" for use in the planted garden you are forced to keep the rows about 6 ft apart (to allow for the overspreading of the plants when they start growing). That's not an efficent use of garden space. You can cut that row spacing down to about 30" by using a walk behind tiller, which is probably why twelvegauge is using his Troy Built.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 9:19AM
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davidandkasie(Z8 MS)

you should probably get the real attachments. that furrower is small for one thing, and the other it is designed for SLOW use behind fresh tilled ground. pull it behind a tractor and it will probably snap. plus it won't move enough dirt to fill in your tire tracks.

once my plants get wide i switch from using the GT to a Craftsman 14" rear tine tiller. although this year i may plant the rows further apart to accomodate the tractor mounted one. i have 4 acres, with 2 set aside for nothing but garden, so i have to luxury of spacing how i want. many people HAVE to keep the rows close due to space constraints and this rules out a GT once the plants start growing good.

also, if you space your rows far apart you should look into drip irrigation or use soaker hoses for watering. no sense in water 10,000 sq ft when you just have 500 sq ft of plants! i bought a 500 ft roll of soaker hose off ebay last year and it was the best investment i have made so far inthe garden. prior to it i had about 6 sprinklers out there and weeds between the rows were almost unmanageble if i did not stay ahead of them. using the soakers and newspaper mulch i could sometimes go a month during summer without the need to clean out the rows.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 1:46PM
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GT's a dying thing, sad but true - people just don't have or take the time for gardening -

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 2:29PM
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If you have a Troybilt tiller you have about the best Garden tool there is.As for the Troybilt tiller hiller attachment on a Garden tractor?I could see where it might work to make seed rows?But as a hiller bed maker it would be throwing the dirt up right where the tractor tires run.Causing compaction problems and that is the main draw back of a Garden tractor anyway tire compaction.Stick with the Troybilt tiller unless you want a super large garden?

Gardens are fading off.Many want convinence not only do they not raise there own lettuce they want it cut and placed in a bag and will pay double for the convinence.I do not think its because there busy more these days?There just lazier then they use to be.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 11:58PM
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The main thing that stops me from planting a garden is the proliferation of hungry varmint in the neighborhood.
We plant tomatoes and peppers in large pots near the house but I have no desire to fence a plot in the back yard (8' fence). There are huge numbers of deer these days. The rabbit population is way down because we have coyotes and large birds of prey that keep them in check.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2008 at 6:43AM
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The thought of tilling and planting a vegatable garden helps me get through the winter. I have four immediate neighbors that have gardens. Most of them can their vegtables also.
I remember a time my next door neighbor George (who past away about six years ago) and I filled up my VW Vanagon with cow manure from a local farmer. We were both in the barn filling up large plastic garbage cans with the manure. Cow manure sure does smell when your driving home with it no matter how much it gets sealed up. At that time Georges wife was very sick and bed ridden. Since he spent most of his time outside he rigged up an electral bell she could ring if she needed anything he could hear while he was outside. Florence started ring that bell when she smelled that manure. We both had a good laugh over that and it's a moment I enjoy remembering. He was like a grandfather to my kids. That cow manure is good stuff, I think it was the best garden I ever had.
The last few years we have had piles of composted horse manure delivered. It's starting to become a sign of spring.
I am thinking of selling my LT150 and buying a GT225 that a guy has for sale locally. The GT225 is a 2001 with under 300 hours and mine is a 2003 with about 350hrs. I'd like to not need to buy another mower and I think the GT225 will last longer. Although I must say the LT still is running good.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2008 at 10:26AM
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The problem I see with "Garden Tractors" is the fact by the time you outfit it to do everything you really want a significant chunk of change (tiller, hitch, may be a loader, etc., been there done that) is invested unless you can find a used unit with attachments. This is why I feel the Deere and Kubota as well as others have made so much head way with the sub compacts.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2008 at 12:03PM
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larso1(So. CO Zone 5)

Our neighbor behind us, a retired sheet metal contractor, used to have about a 1/8 acre garden every year where he planted chiles and tomatos. He used to sell them at a local Farmer's Market where anyone could set up a stand and make some money off their hobby. He loved it, had the farming bug in his veins. But he said the larger area farmers started to set up their big stands of produce and variety next to his, and nobody payed much attention to his small layout. So he quit doing it. It was sad to see, but that's capitalism I guess. Check out CC Plow day pics below.


Here is a link that might be useful: CubCadet Plow Day

    Bookmark   March 15, 2008 at 12:43PM
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Last year, between the drought and deer, my garden was a disaster. My small garden plot is too far away from the house to water it except for hauling water to it. This I deid for a few tomato plants and I did get some tomatoes from the first ones that ripened. When I went back a few days later to gather some more every green tomato was gone; the deer ate them.

LT150, The GT225 is a great little garden tractor. If you can get a good deal on it I'd buy it. I've had mine about 4 years now and I've not been sorry one minute I bought it.


    Bookmark   March 15, 2008 at 2:07PM
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Wheely boy;

If you decide you do want to go back outside I have considerable experience keeping deer out of gardens. A properly constructed, and very easy to erect, electric fence will do wonders to keep deer out.

And very cheap for a small garden.

Watch out for the ticks, Lyme Disease can be far worse than most people know.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2008 at 10:40PM
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"When I went back a few days later to gather some more every green tomato was gone; the deer ate them."

That's what happened to my tomatos last May. They even ate
the tops off of the plants. I called my neighbor, a skilled
carpenter and asked him to build me a tomato cage.

IT'S 8 feet long, 5 feet wide and 4 feet high. The top and back are hinged in the middle so by flipping them over you
can walk in one half or the other and standup to work. He used 1" x 2" firring with 2 x 4 supports for the center. we painted the frame with green Rustoleum and covered it with galvanized wire utility fncing.

I replanted everything inside the cage and had my best tomato crop ever. The cage will probably last for years.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 11:59AM
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Wheelhorse_of_course, maybe by June the snow will finally melt and we may get to see some dirt.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 1:31PM
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This may sound a little crazy, but I bought a 1950 Farmall Cub to work my garden with. I had it converted to 3 pt hitch, independant hydraulics, and bought the equipment to go with it. I couldn't possibly be happier with this Cub! It sips gas, grades my driveway, mows the corn stalks down, plows (really plowing), discs, and culitvates too. Between it and a Johnny Bucket Jr. for my Simplicity Landlord, I save all kinds of time, and I can grow all the vegetables I can stand to grow. I grow my tomatoes in tomato baskets and plant my burpless cucumbers right beside the tomatoes. The cucumbers climb the baskets, and this gives them better areas for pollination. They also ripen on all sides better. So, I save by growing up instead of growing out. The Cub does the work for growing a combination of Ambrosia and Silver Queen corn. As far as people getting away from gardening: They may want to rethink that way of life, especially with the high price of gas and groceries these days.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 11:15AM
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jeffgt5000(z7 VA)

Given the few references to using GT in gardening books and almost total lack of information describing effective use of sleeve hitch implements its hard to believe GT gardening was ever popular.

I've been using a GT to plow, disc, fertilize and cultivate the vegetable garden with good results. But this year is the first I've been able to use the GT for planting. It finally dawned on me that the Earthway push planter could easily be converted to a sleeve hitch setup. An hour cutting and welding is all it took to get a servicable GT planter.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 8:16AM
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Best thing for making raised rows in a garden like mine (30'x30') is a TroyBuilt (mine is a 1987 Pony) with a hiller/furrower attachment. Today I used it for the first time. Raised rows used to take me about 1-2 hours each, depending on how much time I had to take a break in the shade :). I made 5 rows today in less than 75 minutes. Puts the excitement back into gardening!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2008 at 11:04PM
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wanna_be_farmer(z7 Va)

Jeff do you have a picture of that?

I use my GT a Sabre by Jd for everything. Plow disk cultivate, if needed will hook up the 30" tiller to it. Other than spacing, tial and error work great! I started square foot gardening a few years back now putting 3-4 feet between rows.

Don't know if I can say this here, try lookng at that videa site "u" tube? I have seen soem plowing there. Among other crazy things!


    Bookmark   May 4, 2008 at 10:11PM
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On the one hand it appears gardening is on the decline, but on the other hand small plows get snatched up on Ebay so someone is doing it.

Regarding tillage. I do think mostly it is learned through trial and error. Same is true on a bigger scale, it isn't covered in the books and mags. I guess it raises the bar for entry.

When my brother and I were growing organic veggies commercially tilling was not covered in most of the books we bought. It may be covered in "10 acres and independence" which is a classic.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 8:37AM
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larso1(So. CO Zone 5)

"Regarding tillage. I do think mostly it is learned through trial and error. Same is true on a bigger scale, it isn't covered in the books and mags."

So true. I ask my (lifetime) farming inlaws about basic plowing / planting techniques and they look at me like I've been hidden in a closet all my life. Stuff like that is like driving a car to them.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 2:17PM
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I just heard on the news planting a garden is up (at record level, don't ask me how they know that though). I think because of the cost of everything at the store has sky rocketed.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 5:11PM
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"On the one hand it appears gardening is on the decline, but on the other hand small plows get snatched up on Ebay so someone is doing it." I've noticed the same thing both ways with the local Farmall Cubs. Some of the farmers are giving up, and the darn things get snatched up so quick you barely have time to check into them. The big tractors stay around, but the Cubs are making a true come back. My sweet corn is already 3" tall, and looking mighty fine.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 9:45AM
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tom_nwnj(z6 NJ)

I'm not a big Victory gardener (I grow the Yukon Golds. DW does everything else), but some fresh vegs can't be beat.

Try picking some asparagus, on a cool early spring morning. Tastes like candy. You can't buy stuff like that in the local store.

I'm in the Troy Built camp also - have Horse model about 25 years old. Small garden - 32' X 80'. Electric fence setup is a must around here.

I have one of those furrowing tools that mailman was talking about. Works fine on tilled soil.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 6:01PM
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This is something I'm really trying to get my Dad into, since he has a 3 or so acre field on this high point of his mostly wooded property which he hasn't figured out what to do with. Right now he's more concerned about building his house, but next year he'll be more entusiastic about the great things he can do with this plot and his JD 265. There are a lot of uncommon attachments still available fairly reasonable on eBay. My purchases which have arrived at Dad's doorstep over the past two months include a NOS Deere sleeve hitch for $75, a Brinly used-once disc harrow for $100, and a NOS Brinly furrower for $35, and a Brinly back blade for $100 (for landscaping around the house). I lost two auctions for bottom plows, one I bid $155 and the other $170. I think they cost around $300 new. Both went for about $5 more than I bid. I think it's getting a little late in the year for planting anyway, so I guess I'll put off the bargain hunt until the fall when I should get some better deals.

As far as I can tell from the minimal sources I've found on the Internet, I'd imagine the process should go something like this:

1) cut the brush down.
A bush hog is best but I would think a belly-mower fully raised would cut if it's not thick, woody growth.

2) till up the soil
I'd expect a bottom plow would use less gas, and probably be quicker than a tractor-mounted tiller, although the tiller would fluff the soil more and decrease the need for discing.

3) disc the soil
My inexperienced guess would be to use two disc harrows in tandem, one facing in and one facing out, weighted down with cinder blocks

4) furrow the soil
Either use a set of furrowers (I think the Brinly furrowers use the same frame as the cultivator tines).

5) sow the seeds
I guess for some crops like alfalfa you'd just use a broadcast spreader, but corn, peppers, or most others would require the use of a planter, which I've seen selling for $250+ and don't seem to be available from Brinly or Agri-fab anymore.

6) use the furrower or disc harrow to cover the seed
If using tandem discs, I'd have both turned inward.

7) sip some lemonade and watch the crop grow

8) after a few months, cultivate between the rows to eliminate weeds and aerate the soil
I guess you can use the disc cultivator or tine cultivator, driving directly over the plants. Once the plants are more than 6" I guess you'd use your Troy-bilt walk-behind tiller unless you left a space between rows wide enough for your tractor.

9) cultivate again a few months later

10) harvest the crop
I don't know of any garden tractor attachments (other than a Haban sickle bar--no longer in production) which would facilitate harvesting.

I haven't found ANYTHING that really goes step-by-step regarding what you need to do to use your tractor to increase garden productivity. So for davidandkasie and windcatcher, if you could offer any details, timelines, or corrections to my conception above, it would be greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 7:01PM
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The Planet Jr seeder is still made (I am fairly certain), but they are not cheep.

With the brush option you can even plant pelletized lettuce seed.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 8:43PM
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Yes the Planet Jr is still avaliable from Cole for Cat 0 or Cat1 3 point hitch's

Here is a link that might be useful: Planet jr

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 9:31PM
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Earthway makes a great walk behind seeder with multiple seeding plates. Lightweight aluminum, but still strong. I've heard some Cub owners modifying theirs to be pulled behind their tractors with good success.

Here is a link that might be useful: Earthway Seeder

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 8:21AM
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