For a long time, women’s role in the garden was quite restricted. Upper class women could only garden as a hobby, clipping a few blooms for themselves while taking care not to expose their fair skin to the sun. To women of the lower classes, a thriving kitchen garden would keep their family from starving.
It was only in the late Victorian era that women first became professional horticulturalists. But even at the turn of the 20th century, only “surplus” women – those who chose not to marry, or couldn’t – made their careers in the gardening world.
Times have changed. Over the years, thousands of tools have been invented to make gardening easier. Now that machines can do the heavy, back-breaking work, women of all ages, sizes, and strength can create stunning gardens and flourishing vegetable patches.
One of the most useful tools for any gardener is a cultivator. They come in many shapes and sizes – ranging from small hand-held forks to gas-powered or tow-behind tillers.
Types of cultivators
The least expensive options are the small, hand-held cultivators, long-handled claws, and manual rotary tillers. These are best used for weeding and aerating around the base of your plants. Some are also useful for breaking up loose soil and mixing in compost or other additives. They’re typically small and lightweight, making them easy to use but not as useful for larger jobs.
Electric cultivators are lightweight and powerful enough to handle small to medium-sized gardens. Some have variable speeds and adjustable tilling depths.
They don’t produce any harmful emissions – but the trade-off is that they’re dependent on a power source. The battery-powered cultivators need to be recharged periodically. The corded types must be plugged in – and you have to navigate around the cord while tilling!
A gas-powered tiller is typically the most powerful. They’re suitable for maintaining even the largest garden plots; many can even break new ground.
Most models have variable speeds and tilling depths. Some have adjustable widths as well – and a few have attachments for edging or other specialty tasks. But they can be noisy. And if you choose a 2-cycle motor, you’ll need to use the proper mix of gas and oil.
If you own a lawn tractor or ATV, a tow-behind tiller might be a good option – they can handle a wide and deep path, making quick work of large gardens.
Best garden tiller for women
But with so many options out there, how do you know which is best for you?
It’s not so much about finding the right cultivator for women, but rather the right one for the job – and that is also convenient and easy for women to use.
One of the most important features that a female gardener needs to consider is the weight of her tools. Heavier machines require more muscle and stamina to maneuver. It’s easy to get tired if you’re carrying or pushing a heavy tiller around.
On the other hand, if your tiller is too light for the job, it may bounce and bump along the surface instead of digging in deep. So it’s best to find the middle ground – no pun intended – and choose a tiller that is heavy enough for the task, but light enough to handle.
It’s also important that your tiller be the right height for you. Many models are built to be ergonomic, putting less physical strain on the operator. But sadly, they’re designed for tall users. So, if you’re a shorter woman, the handle of many electric or gas-powered cultivators could be too long. So, unless they’re adjustable, you’ll be holding the tiller at either an uncomfortable angle – or the wrong one.
You should also choose a tiller with great safety features:
- Emergency cut-off switches that will stop the tines from turning if the handle is released
- Safety shields around the tiller blades to prevent rocks from springing up at the operator
In addition to the right tiller for the right job, you also need to choose the right tiller for you. Do you prefer an electric cultivator – with its limited range but smaller environmental impact?
Or would you rather a more powerful tiller – even though they’re noisy and you’ll need to fill a gas tank before each use? And if you choose a gas-powered model, do you prefer the heavier 4-cycle engine with its separate gas and oil tanks or the smaller, 2-cycle that requires as gas/oil mixture?
Consider the size of your garden. And the width of the rows. How much space do you have to manoeuver? And how deep do you need to dig?
Do you need any specialty accessories? They’ll usually be an extra cost, but will help with chores like edge trimming or furrowing.
Choosing a quality cultivator
A high-quality mini-tiller is designed to dig up hard soil and create a loose bed. It’s also great for keeping the soil conditioned throughout the growing season, and for mixing in compost and other soil amendments.
Verify the moving parts: the starter cord of a gas-powered machine should be strong enough to handle many pulls over the years without fraying. You want a reliable engine that is easy to maintain, that will start and stop safely, and doesn’t stall.
You may also want to choose a tiller with user-friendly features like quick and easy adjustments to the height and width of the cut. Look for space-savings features such as folding handlebars or wheels.
Just be aware that some lesser-quality machines will flout these types of features, while sacrificing strength, power, or stability. Be sure to choose a tiller from a reputable manufacturer with a history of high-performance products.
Always choose the right tool for the job – just make sure that it’s also the right tool for the woman doing the job!
Recommended tillers for women
Both of these are great examples of a light, easy to use machine, perfect for working around flowerbeds/ raised beds and small vegetable plots.