Me and Mantis. We have a history and I think you should know about it.
I lost my father in 2003 and my mom 363 days later. It’s life, something we all deal with eventually. They were extremely independent people but in those last few years they needed help with some things. Like yard work. One evening I was over helping my dad with some things in the yard and he asks me to roto-till his little garden. The conversation went like this . . .
Dad; “Will you roto-till the garden for me?”
Me; “Sure, I’ll bring my tiller over tomorrow.”
Dad; “I have a tiller.”
Me; “You have a tiller????
Dad; “Yeah, your mother bought it for me. Ordered it through the mail.”
This was back before the Internet or in the very early days when most people didn’t even know what it was.
Me; You bought a roto-tiller through the mail?
Dad; “Yeah, it’s a small one.”
He goes into the shed and brings out the smallest roto-tiller I’d ever seen in my life!
When I saw that thing I just smiled. I mean I really smiled because I couldn’t believe that this would actually run, let alone til the ground. His was the 2 cycle model, probably the only model Mantis made back then. Still very suspect of this tiny machine I thought; “What the heck! I’ll take it for a spin.”
One of the first things that I noticed is that it had a handle so you could pick it up and carry it like a lunch box! What? I picked it up, couldn’t believe how light it was, set it in the garden and started the engine.
When that thing started up and those tines started spinning and immediately started digging into the soil in his garden I couldn’t believe my eyes. That thing was like a roto-tilling monster! I went from amused to highly suspect to absolutely blown away with amazement. I was so impressed that I immediately became a fan of Mantis and I really have been a raving fan ever since.
After my dad died we had the chore of going through his stuff, mostly his tools etc. and we came to the Little Mantis Tiller. My brother used to borrow it all the time from my dad so he too was a fan. We both had a need for and could use the tiller. I told my brother; “You take it, and I’ll just order one for myself.” I did buy my own Mantis Tiller and I’ve been bragging about it ever since. We’ve featured it in a number of videos. Many of Our Members have purchased Mantis Tillers on my recommendations because we use them for cultivating, preparing new grow beds and mixing topsoil.
But this article is about . . .
The Mantis 4-Cycle Plus Tiller/Cultivator
A review actually. Just looking at this photo I’ll tell you this . . .
- The machine was very easy to assemble. All we had to do was put on the handles, the kick stand and the tines. And add motor oil.
Do not forget to add the oil!
- The tines are reversible. One direction is for digging and tilling, the other direction is for cultivating. Very easy to do, just pull the spring pins and switch the tines from side to the other.
- If the tines get all plugged up with vines, weeds or other garden debris the problem is easily solved. Simply pop off the tine and slide the entangled mess right off the spindle.
- The kick stand! The older models did not have a kick stand. This makes storing the tiller so much easier.
- The handles can be folded down easily, that makes storing the machine even easier.
- Light weight! This machine only weighs 24 lbs.
- This machine has a 4-cycle engine! That means that it runs on regular gas only, no mixing oil with the gas. 2-cycle machines require a fuel mixture of gas and oil. This is a huge advantage for people that don’t have other garden tools that require 2-cycle fuel. Regular gas is all it needs!
- The motor is a Honda® engine. Very easy to start! Runs smooth and about as quiet as a gasoline engine can run.
- I love the new soft grip handles and the under the handle throttle that operates as smooth as butter.
- The on/off switch is right there on the right hand handle grip, opposite the throttle.
- No cumbersome levers! No gear or speed selector to fuss with. Simply start the engine and start tilling. You control the speed of the tines with the trigger like throttle. Awesome!
Check out this machine in action! Watch the movie . . .
Do I seem overly impressed with this machine? Maybe I am. But I’ve been a big believer in these Mantis products for a long time. I really don’t like to do negative reviews of products, so if I encounter a product that I really don’t like, I simply don’t mention it.
For instance. I’ve got two orange wheelbarrows that I have deemed to be absolute junk. I paid something like $140 each for them. The handles broke on both. One of them broke on the first day we used it. Cost me $35 for new handles and a half a day to replace them. And now the tubs have cracked on both. Not cracked, they broke! The lip broke off!
I’m really mad about those wheelbarrows. If I’d paid $59 I’d say I got what I paid for. But I paid full price for them and for the same money I could have had Two Jackson Wheelbarrows! Yeah, I’m a big fan of Jackson Contractor Grade Wheelbarrows.
So when I find a product I really like, I brag about it. But when I get stuck with a product that I don’t like, I secretly fume about it and as I’m typing this I realize that I need to take those orange wheelbarrows to the dump because every time I look at one of them my blood pressure goes up! Throwing them in the dump would be a liberating experience!
I brag about Mantis Tillers because they truly have impressed me!
As soon as the ground thaws I’ll add a demonstration video of this machine in action. (note, the ground has thawed and the video has been added above. I’ll tell you this about these small Mantis tillers.
- If you have 40 acres to till this is the wrong machine.
- But if you have a vegetable garden I think this is a must have machine because they do a nice job of tilling and keeping a garden weed free.
- The machine is light weight, easy to handle, easy to carry if need be.
- The machine is small and easily maneuvered around. Trust me, I’ve got a small rear tine tiller that I also use. But if I get it in a corner it’s multiple, slow maneuvers to get it out of that corner. And if I turn it at all while going down a row of plants the tiller guard swings over and cuts up my plants. And if I till right up the the fence, which I often have to, more slow, awkward backing up, trying to hold the reverse lever while fighting with the handles. It’s a good tiller, but not an easy thing to use. And if I need to take it from the front of the property to the back I might as well pack a lunch because it is slow, slow, slow. And disengaging the wheels is a job, something I never want to do again!
- So yeah, maneuverability is everything.
- Let’s be realistic. This Mantis 4-Cycle Tiller/Cultivator only weighs 24lbs. That’s a good thing. But on really hard packed ground it’s going to bounce around and probably have difficulty breaking that hard ground. But if you get to the ground in the spring when it’s soft, then you can easily and quickly keep it worked up for the rest of the season and every season to come. In the demo video that I will post here I will use the machine to break some fresh ground so you can see what it will do.
- I don’t think that Mantis ever mentions this, but I use my Mantis tiller to actually move soil. Yes, move soil. As it tills it kicks soil out the back. Not all over you, but out the back. So when I have a pile of soil to move or at least level off, rather than shoveling which I’m not that good at anymore, I simply let the tiller walk into the pile and then I pull it backward moving the soil toward me as I back up. It really works well for this! I’ve leveled off all kinds of piles of soil doing this. For me this is a huge thing! I’ll put a video on this page showing you how that’s done.
- This machine actually moves fast if you want it to. Quite easily controlled by you. Unlike my rear tine tiller that craws at a snails pace, I can let the Mantis tiller work at any speed that I want it to. That’s a great feature if you are cultivating. When cultivating you only need to disturb the soil a little bit to keep the garden weed free. This machine allows you to do that very quickly.
- It’s small, easy to turn, super easy to maneuver. You can easily weave in between plants in the garden. That means that you will spend a lot less time hoeing the garden.
Using a Mantis Tiller to Level a Pile of Soil.
This video has a little of everything. Pam making a sign for the donkeys, rare footage of The Donkeys as babies, and the Mantis Tiller moving soil. Keep in mind, this is my old, 2-cycle Mantis tiller. As soon as I make the video of the 4-cycle machine I’ll add it to this page. Right now the ground is frozen!
Watch the movie!
Questions, comments, mean things to say? Post them below and I’ll respond appropriately.