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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Troy-Bilt Bronco Axis VTT Vertical Tine Tiller Review

Recently I had the pleasure to try out the new Troy-Bilt Bronco VTT Vertical Tine Tiller which they sent me to test and use in my garden. I've used tillers periodically before in my garden and I was very curious to see how this one functioned. It's design is significantly different from traditional tillers. The tines extend down like a cake mixer and spin. It's a very interesting idea but the question is: does the vertical tine tiller work better than a normal tiller?

I tested it in the backyard in a spot that was overgrown with grass and weeds. I like using tillers to start new garden areas because they break through the sod much easier than having to dig through the roots of the grass. I've used other methods before like Lasagna Gardening and Raised beds, both of which I like a lot and recommend, but tillers can still be a very useful tool to start a new garden.

Vertical tines
I started up the tiller very easily with a switch near the handle bars and a pull on the engine. The blades don't engage until you switch them on with a dead man's switch (it's not as scary as it sounds). You can adjust the height by moving a pin near where the guard is in the back. Once the blades are engaged you can use the self propelled feature to easily move through the turf.

The Troy-Bilt Bronco tiller is fairly heavy but that is necessary in order to push the tiller into the soil. Gravity is a mighty force! The tiller's weight does make it tricky to turn but it can go in reverse to help with turning and to work the soil in the opposite direction. I also noticed that the reverse option in combination with the guard functioned as a sort of leveling tool to help grade the soil.

As the tines work their way through the turf the spinning action creates tufts of sod which you can then pick up and use in other areas of your yard where the grass may have died and left unsightly holes. I don't think that was the intent but it's an interesting side benefit.

Overall I liked this tiller much better than other ones I've used before. It doesn't jerk around much at all and seems to move through the soil very easily. It doesn't take many swipes to get an area tilled which is better for the soil structure. The less you have to disturb the soil the better. I missed a few spots but was able to clear a good sized area very quickly to plant about 20 Jalapeno pepper plants! My only issue was running out of area to till...I need a bigger garden but don't tell my wife I said that!

Troy-Bilt Bronco Vertical Tine Tiller

Friday, June 19, 2015

Daylilies in Bloom

It's that time of year where the daylilies are becoming the showoffs of the garden. Daylilies (Hemerocallis) area very common collectable perennial here in the south. They propagate very easily through division and are a prime starter plant for people interested in learning how to hybridize plants. Here's a look at a little of what is blooming in our garden this summer:

Daylily Hybridization

The first two photos are results of my hybridization attempts. While they are pretty, they never developed into a must have daylily. Hybridizing is fairly simple, just take pollen from the stamen and dab it on the pistol. It's best done in the early morning before the pollen dries out too much.Make sure you mark the hybridized flower so that you can collect seeds from it later when the pods are ready.

Daylily Division

To divide a daylily just dig up the clump and rinse the roots off so you can see where the plant will easily divide. Then gently pull apart the tubers/roots and the top growth. The last step it to replant it and you're done!

Daylilies are extremely tough plants and require very little maintenance. They like full sun so plant them in a sunny spot for all to enjoy!

'Primal Scream'

Friday, May 15, 2015

Propagating Grape Vines Through Greenwood Cuttings - Video

I took a short video today of some grape vine cuttings I'm attempting to root. Grape vines root easily from greenwood cuttings or from hardwood cuttings. I prefer the greenwood cutting method just because they seem to root a lot faster and I get the pleasure of faster gratification! Hopefully in about 6 weeks I'll have some rooted grape vine cuttings that I can pot up then plant this fall. Here's the video, thanks for watching!

Rooting Grape Vines from Greenwood Cuttings

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Greenworks Pro 80V 18 Inch Chainsaw Review

When you think about power tools do you think electric? Maybe it's time you should! Recently Greenworks sent me their battery powered Greeworks Pro 80Volt 18" Chainsaw to test. I had some doubts. Could a battery powered chainsaw actually cut through well enough to be a part of my arsenal of power tools? Would a charge last long enough to get through all the jobs I would need to attack in one day? Would the chainsaw be able to be recharged fast enough to get back to work when it did run out of energy? Those were the questions in my head and probably the questions anyone wanting to purchase a new powertool would ask.

Before I tell you what I found out let's look at some of the advantages of a battery powered chainsaw. First, there is no gas needed. That saves from visiting the gas station and having to mix oil and gas before using. It does require chain oil to insure smooth operation so you aren't completely fossil fuel free but you are pretty close.  A rechargeable battery system came with the chainsaw so, depending on which power sources your local utilities choose to use, you could be using green energy (wind, solar, hydro) to run the chainsaw.

The battery pack is heavy but that is necessary to retain the charge needed to run such a powerful tool and yes it is powerful. It easily cut through a 16-18" tree trunk I had sitting around. I actually ended up turning it into a bench with the chainsaw by shaving one side of the tree to make a seat.

The battery charge never ran out on me. I cut out 4 holly bushes and a tall Leyland cypress in one day and could have cut down several more before the charge ran out. I noticed that it charged to full in the battery charger fast. In the time it took me to eat dinner one evening the 80 Volt battery had a full charge.

The Greenworks chainsaw had no trouble with anything I tried to cut. It sliced through wood quickly and efficiently. What I really liked was being able to put the chainsaw down without having the motor running and making noise. When cutting wood you frequently have to move branches and logs to cut more and with a gas powered chainsaw you either have to leave it run or turn it off then restart it. The Greenworks chainsaw is off when you release the trigger so the only noise happens when you are making your cuts. It has a safety button and a timeout setting so that it can't accidentally be turned on when you don't want it on.

My other Bradford Pear Tree may be the next target!

My overall impression is that the chainsaw is a great tool for the home gardener for cutting trees and shrubs in the landscape. I think a landscape business could use this as well for trimming branches and removing trees as needed. Battery powered tools give us a way to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and gradually transition to a future with renewable energy. If you're looking for a chainsaw I definitely recommend considering the Greenworks Pro for your garden!