Allotments can be hard work. There’s lots of physical labour. Bending down, scratching around in the soil removing weeds, digging into hard packed earth, moving heavy loads from one place to another. Add to all that a full time job at the office or factory, and, it’s no wonder a lot of folk give up on their “lotties”. After ten years on my allotment, and having, just, passed the sixty year old mark, I can safely say that anything that makes my allotment work easier is well worth considering.
I bought my Mantis Tiller about thee years ago, mainly for work on the allotment, but I have also used it for small gardening jobs, rotovating flower beds and preparing ground for the laying of turf lawns. It was a very good buy, and, if the tiller broke down irreparably tomorrow, I would have no hesitation in buying another. A quick look on ebay shows that a secondhand unit can be bought for around £200. I bought mine for a paltry £60 and the guy I bought it off threw a petrol strimmer in free of charge. Bargain!
The Mantis Tiller is essentially a small, lightweight, rotovator. Mine is a two stroke model which requires a mixture of petrol and two stroke oil (50:1) to power it. The engine is made by Honda and has proved very reliable with very little maintenance. I haven’t changed the air filter at all, but I did change the spark plug last week and it’s now starting a lot better. The secret of this machine is the revolution speed of the rotovator tines. It’s like a hand held kitchen mixer for the garden. It bites into the soil churning it to a fine and friable texture.
I’ve adopted a new system whereby I dig a trench using the Mantis. The soil removed is lovely and friable. I scatter 6X pelleted chicken manure in the bottom of the trench, and then return the soil to the trench ready for planting. At the end of the season, I will turn the soil over using the Mantis and repeat the process in the spring. I also use the Mantis to recover compost from the chicken coop. To be honest, digging the ground by hand is now unthinkable. It is far too hard for an old bloke like me.
One piece of maintenance that does need to be carried out regularly, is the cleaning of the tines. If the ground is a little damp, the tines do get covered in sticky mud which needs to be removed before the tiller is stored. Other than that, the machine needs very little maintenance. I have used some other accessories that I bought for the Mantis, but, I can’t really recommend them. I thought the scarifier attachments were OK until I used a Qualcast mower fitted with a scarifier cassette. It really showed the Mantis up. Also not happy with the lawn edger and aerator attachments. I found a hand held edger to be much better to use and the lawn aerator cut quite deep lines into the lawn which looks bad, and, if the weather turns dry, can literally ruin a lawn.
So, as a lightweight rotovator, I believe the Mantis can’t be touched. You may have to do the odd bit of soil de-compaction with a garden fork, but, as long as the ground isn’t too dry and hard, the Mantis does a surprisingly good job. It certainly makes the allotment lifestyle more enjoyable.
I’ve uploaded a video to my YouTube Channel, you can see it below…