How To Till A Garden Without A Tiller

Tilling helps breaking the soil to make it airy and fresh. This also works best for uprooting unnecessary weeds and mixing amendments into the soil.

But using an electric or gas-powered tiller is harmful for the already dreading environment. It can also make your soil compact and eroded over a long period of time.

Traditionally, most individuals used to till their gardens and farms using their manual labor or animals. This can be done now as well, if you’re prepared to break a sweat.

Manually tilling your soil can provide you better results than the mechanical tillers. And it is definitely a healthier option for your farm and the environment altogether. Read on to find out some useful methods to till a garden without a tiller.

Manual Equipment Tilling

Manual tilling requires you to use a power garden tool and your labor power for tilling your garden. The steps involved in the process are:

1. Get the necessary equipment

There are several garden tools available in the market for tilling your garden. But it’s necessary to invest in the one that suits your needs and purpose. You can consider some of these tools:

  • Manual Wheel Hoe
  • Garden Weasel
  • Garden Hoe
  • Pick Axe/Mattock
  • Digging Shovel
  • Garden Claw Or Cultivator
  • Pitchfork/Garden Fork/Digging Fork
  • Bow Rake

Another critical thing to get are heavy-duty garden gloves so you don’t get blisters while you’re digging. Make sure to put them on before you start the tilling process. 

2. Determine The Garden Area And Examine Soil Health

The next step is to determine which area you’d want to till for your garden and investigate the soil in that area. The area shouldn’t be too wet or too dry. You should also check the PH level of the soil, if the PH is too high and the soil is acidic, try to mould it down prior. You can use lime or peat moss or compost to mend down the soil for perfect gardening. You need to make sure you have a healthy soil to work with. 

3. Start Tilling Using A Shovel

Once you’re set and have decided on where to till the garden and the soil health have been cured, you can start tilling the land. You’d have to get a shovel (or other equipment you’re using) in your hand and start digging 8 to 10 inches deep into the soil.

You are required to push the shovel handle into the soil and push it back up. You can do this in circular motion or parallel lines. When you’re digging one line, make sure to remove the soil onto the next ditch you’ve created. That way, the soil from the 2nd area goes into the 1st one and from the 3rd it then goes to the 2nd one and so on. You can use the 1st line’s soil for the last parallel dig you’ve created. 

4. Use A Rake To Remove Rocks

Once you’ve tilled the whole area properly, you’d notice there might be small to medium-sized rocks still remaining. You can either pick-up these rocks or crush them by hand. And if they’re a little big, you can use a rake to crush them or carry them outside your tilled area. You can also use a garden fork to get this job done, but it might take more time. Removing large rocks and breaking up small soil chunks help to loosen up the soil further and make it airy. When you’re done with this process, you are almost ready to plant in your garden. 

5. Mix Up The Soil And Water The Land

Once you’ve tilled throughout the land, you are required to mix the soil as the last step. This will ensure that you have a perfectly mixed upper and lower level soil. You can use your hands for this process. You can also add compost again to make the soil more fertilized.

After you’re done, start filling up the area with soil and water the entire land properly. You should leave the soil for a day and then sow your seeds or directly plant saplings the next day.

Manually tilling your garden requires a lot of time and energy, but it’s the best possible way to save nature. This also ensures that the earthworms and insects who take care of your soil health remain intact, unlike mechanical tillers which kill most of these.


Hand Tilling

You’d think that it’s nearly impossible to till a garden simply using your hands, but it’s not. Though it’ll require a lot of energy and time and it’s a very hard job to do, it can be done. You can also use the double-digging technique for hand tilling, where you remove the extra weeds, rocks and other obstructions before starting.

There are especially designed gloves available in the market which are made for tilling though your hands and you can get one of those. Most of these come with steel heads on the fingers to easily remove the soil. But you can’t go much deeper into the soil using this method. This is best suited for tilling a small area or if you’re planting a pot and just want to make the soil airy and little loose.


Animal Tilling

Another technique to try out is to till your garden using your farm animals. It might be tricky at first, and your animals might not know the difference between “tilling” and “destroying”, but it can work. You can work this up with chickens, horses and pigs. Pigs especially can till your land very smoothly and perfectly, if they’re made to do it the right way.

They will turn the soil in the right direction and turn the area into mud. Chickens on the other hand, can scrape off the top layer of the soil and fertilize the land with their excreta. But Horses might not work properly on dry land. And you can also make your Goats clean up the bushy area in your garden.

Follow these steps to make your pigs till your garden:

  • First, you need to make sure you have a fertilized area to make the work easy. You can put out your chickens in the area for a month or so and they can fertilize the land, instead of using chemical fertilizers.
  • The next step is to set-up the area for pigs to work. You can use electrical poultry netting so your pigs don’t leave the garden area. You can use other techniques which work for you, as long as it keeps the pigs focused.
  • Once the pigs are done (which might take a week), you can use manure and compost and spread it all over the land to make the soil healthier.

Tractor Tilling

Another method to try for tilling is by using a tractor. This is especially suitable for larger land and farming, where you’re required to till a large plot. A tractor’s power is measured by horsepower, so invest in the one suitable for your needs. They are designed with a large fork at the end which results in tilling and raking your garden at the same time. This is a time and energy saving technique, and gives you the best desired results.

Tilling your land is a very necessary step to ensure your soil is healthy and prepared for planting. And there are various methods of tilling, even without a tiller. Make sure you try out these alternative techniques to till your garden and save the environment.