How to Use a Garden Rotavator
A rotavator is a workhorse in gardening. The machine will take the hard work off your shoulders and bring more fun into the hobby.
Benefits of Using a Rotavator
- A rotavator is the best piece of machine that can aerate your soil. Soil aeration can bring in a lot of benefits. There will be better air exchange between your soil and the atmosphere. You will have a better kind of soil that can absorb water and fertilizer more efficiently.
- Rotating allows tilling deeper into the soil than ordinary dig tools can do. Some units can dig up to just 2 inches deep; others 9 inches deep. You will need to dig deeper with a lot of soft soil below if your plants have roots that bore deeper as well.
- The rotavator will bring lots of weed roots up to the surface. Use it when the weather forecast is a lot of sunshine for the days ahead. That way, the roots that you will miss when you rake them up will consequently get dried by the sun.
- Rotavating will also uncover the hiding places of harmful insects below the surface. That’s one reason why you need to use protective materials such as eye shields and gloves. Watch for small stones that can be kicked back by the rotavator at you.
- Rotavating is time-efficient.
- Lastly, you may have to bring in more people to the garden to help you with the task. Take it as an opportunity for family bonding.
How to Use a Rotavator
Remove unwanted plants from the area
This ensures that large weeds will not hamper soil tilling. It will also make sure that not too much weed will scatter around during the operation. If the soil is wet or if done under wet weather, weeding should be made two weeks ahead of the actual tilling. This is to allow time for weed drying.
Note: Spraying the weeds using a glyphosate weed killer is one option you can do. If you choose this option, make sure that you have six hours of “dry” time afterwards. The weeds will die within 2 weeks. You can till the soil afterwards. This is less risky. Rotavating while there are still weeds growing is more troublesome and unsafe.
Break the soil
Start slowly, always keeping in mind your safety. The rotavator has blades that rotate, making erratic movements inevitable. Maintain body balance when operating it.
Move in straight lines
Work your way from one line to another, making sure that the entire area is covered.
Till the soil one more time
The blades will have chopped the soil into smaller chunks by the time you have completely covered the area. Covering the same area again but in the direction that is perpendicular to the first direction will make the soil finer.
Dig deeper if needed
According to your requirements, you may repeat the entire process over again. For first year gardens, the recommended depth is 6 – 10 inches. For established gardens, the single-dig method is appropriate. That is about 2 – 3 inches of till. This will avoid disturbing the current ecosystem below the soil’s surface.
Tilling the soil should be done when it is slightly moist and not too wet. A soil that is wet will form hard clusters, causing difficulties in planting and germination of seeds
After tilling it, alter the soil with around 2 inches of organic matter or compost. This will enhance aeration and drainage more.
How to Use Rotavators Properly
- Rotavating can be extremely tiring. Don’t control or fight it. The trick is to pin the machine down and prevent it from moving forward by grabbing the handles. Give the depth bar a push downward.
Because the thing can’t move, it will naturally dig down and when it reaches the depth that you want, release the handles. As soon as you let go of it, it will move forward again. Practice balancing the “pin down” and the “let go” motions, and you will have good control.
- Aside from the gloves and eye protection, use steel toe-capped boots to protect your feet.
- Check the rotavator each time you will use it. Lubricate the engine. Clean the tines. Also check the soil for possible obstructions.
- Don’t leave your rotavator running unattended. Always make sure the work area is clear, most especially of children and animals.
- After hitting an obstacle, stop the rotavator and inspect it for possible damage.
- Avoid abrupt starts and stops.
- Keep in mind that the blades of a rotavator can not only cut limbs, but drag them as well.
- Tell your children that it is not a toy.
A rotavator can be the most helpful tool in your garden, but because of its powerful movements and sharp blades, it can also be your most dangerous equipment. Always keep it under close watch.