Cultivators, Breast Plows, Hand Tillers, Man Pulled Plows

scarletdaisies(6)December 25, 2010

I've been looking for non electric equipment for my garden, and I'm coming to the fact that I need a plow, some kind of plow. First a hand plow of some type, later an electric or gas powered one. I've read of Breast Plows that are used with a wood plate against your stomach to push with, those are just for turf to be dug up, then the cultivators, which only work if soil is loose, and I guess hand tillers are the same as cultivators.

Are there any type of plow that a man can pull instead of using an animal? They are arranged for a man to view from the back while it being pulled, but is there one built for a man to control from the front while pulling his/her own plow for a small garden area?

What are the limits of a plow? Hard soil like hardpan mixed with some clay sometimes depending on how deep.

If anyone has any ideas of what kind of plow can be pulled successfully by a woman, please let me know. Goat plows are small, do I look for a plow made for a small animal?

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The only small plows I have seen are the push type of garden plows which may be ok for cultivating. I use to use a spading fork and hand tools when I was younger, but no way could I do it now.

I have a troy bilt horse 7 hp. and a poulan pro 6.5 hp.
If I had to give up one of them it would be the troy bilt because it is so heavy, but both are great.

I think the small tillers would be great but they cost a lot for their size, and if you have clay and hardpan, as I do, I dont think they would last very long. I bought an attachment to go on a line trimmer to cultivate with about 2 years ago and it lasted about 2 or 3 hours and the worm gear was stripped. The soil had been tilled with the poulan a month or two before but was still too heavy for the small tilling head.

In short, I am too old to go with hand tools to break ground ground. I till the soil well and plant close and mulch and run a pvc tube along the row with holes in it to water with. I am not man enough to do it any other way.

Best of luck to you and happy holidays.


    Bookmark   December 26, 2010 at 10:55AM
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It takes quite a bit of energy to pull a plow of any size through soil that needs plowing. It is probably more practical to use a spade or spading fork to turn or loosen the soil by hand. A moldboard plow does a beautiful job of turning the soil upside down, but you could never pull one yourself.

If you want to turn the soil upside down, you will need a spade. I prefer the long handled kind, for leverage, and the long handle helps me jump up on the blade with both feet to apply the impact of my full body weight to drive the blade into the ground.

Some people like to use the shorter handled variety of spade with a "D" grip on the end of the handle.

If all you want to do is loosen the soil, a spading fork is practical. There is also an interesting variation on that called a Broad Fork.

If you want to use a human powered plow, a push cultivator of some sort is probably the most efficient.

(not associated with any product or vendor mentioned)

    Bookmark   December 27, 2010 at 11:10PM
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I think, your best bet would be to have somebody first turn the sod, and do a good plowing of the garden plot, to your liking, and then it would be much easier to do the rest as you describe. Once really plowed well, then the following years, the ground will still be pliable.
But, for you to try to till it by hand and back and foot--well- you will be very surprised, and not get very far! If it was easy, the old timers wouldn't have used oxen aand horses to break the sod!

    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 12:47PM
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Your question brought back memories of my wife's grandfather, who, well into his 80s used a manual cultivator, strapped to his body, to cultivate his very large, life-long garden. Easily 2000+ sq. ft.

I'd see him hoeing and cultivating with his bib overalls and felt hat, the same outfit he wore at his viewing at the age of 96.

Every row had a string line so he could run his hand along the line and push the cultivator with his body and the other hand. He was totally blind at the age of 30.

So, woman, you can do it!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 9:02PM
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Those stories are so sweet! I have a tall hill, and I don't think I can get a 200 pound tiller up there. I have a digging fork, shovel, even a 2 and 1/2 pound pick mattock. The soil is soft mostly because I pile leaves on it at the end of the year, if wet, it is soft enough probably for the cultivator, but because it's mostly hardpan, if dry, it's solid.

I was just thinking what the best option would be, I see I may be doing it already. I even did the double dig method on one of the 10x10 areas, it grew the worst. I didn't even get a beet out of it, so I guess I'll just do as normal, turning it with a digging fork.

Thanks for the advice. I dreamed of the 8 horsepower rear tine for forward and back, it will even cut through tree root, but really it won't make it up the hill. If I can't get 20 gallons of water up there on a wheelbarrow, a tiller won't make it up there. I got the most of 15 gallons, weighing 8 pounds per gallon, 120 pounds, it was a killer, I won't try a plow. I think I'm moving anyways, but wanted to check the options out.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 9:50PM
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Hi Daisies,

Unless the path is very narrow or has steps in it, a tiller should be able to climb a hill. Predictably, I recommend a BCS or Grillo as the best machines on the market, but any tiller should be able to make it up there. If you really want to plow, a BCS or a Grillo can pull one. Here's a pic of my two way plow for my 850 BCS -

You can also buy a rotary plow for it if you're looking to break up really hard ground. They're expensive, but very effective. I plan on buying a two way plow this spring

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a dealer in Grillo tractors and have been playing around with fixing up and reselling used BCS machines for a couple years now. This may color my opinion...

Here is a link that might be useful: Earth Tols in Owenton KY site

    Bookmark   January 7, 2011 at 5:43PM
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Earth Tols thanks fo posting, I learned something today. I will try to read more.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2011 at 9:14PM
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Hi Slowpoke,

Earth Tools isn't mine. Joel Dufour owns Earth Tools, and he happens to have the best site regarding BCS and Grillo tractors and attachments.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2011 at 11:03PM
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