Friday, May 7, 2010

a lesson learned

being green has a cost. in my case last night, it was time.

i planted clover as a cover crop in my raised beds to help build up the soil. the plan was to rototill the plants in once i am ready to plant.

last night i started to do just that. rototill the clover into the beds. lets just say it was less than successful.

in order to ease the rototiller's work, i sheared the clover with hedge shears - but to no avail. the clover wrapped around the mantis tiller's axle and about every 3-5 minutes i was trying to cut away clover so the mantis could continue its tilling task.

plan 'A' was a bust.

plan 'B' - which wasnt really plan 'B' because i did not fathom i would have a wrapping issue with the mantis. hence no plan.

but plan 'B' was hastily thrown together and turned out that i would have to pull out the majority of the plants or said plants would wrap around the mantis tiller shaft and grind it to a screeching halt. it worked, as i only had to clear clover about two times while rototilling a bed.

the problem is i spend about 30 minutes per bed pulling out the clover plants. which means less clover being put into the beds. dont get me wrong - the clover isnt being wasted. my youngest son (in his endeavor to earn enough money to buy a leopard gecko) is cheerfully taking the pulled/sheared clover to the compost pile. so the clover will be destined for the beds - eventually. another surprise is how deep those roots of the clover go. most of these plants are just locked in to the dirt and arent easily pulled up.

last night, i got through 5 of the 12 beds - way slower than i anticipated. BUT i did get to listen to the rivercats get beat up by the SLC bees (come on cats whats up with you guys this year).

for 2010 - it seems this is a lesson learned. a quick google search shows a weed wrap preventer for the mantis - anyone have any experience on this contraption?


  1. Garry,

    Thanks for posting this up. I've considered clover as a cover crop -- but after hearing this? Ferget it! If it's strong enough to tie up a Mantis -- Bill Bird wants no part of it. Besides -- most of the gardening beds are in use year-round now. Once one crop comes out -- we till in amendments for the next crop -- and plant. Great tip.

  2. I don't have a tiller so I ended up sharpening a spade shovel and tilling my Crimson Clover cover crop in by hand. Probably only a 15x15 square or so but it was indeed work.

  3. I had the same problem the first time I tried to till my crimsom clover and I have an 8 horse Troy Built. if you mow it first, it will go alot smoother.

  4. That's exactly what I was afraid of so I didn't plant a cover crop. My back can't handle that kind of mess. Like Bill, my beds produce year round. I just stick to composting and rotating.