She's a Beauty.....

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Don't fall in love.....She's one in a million girls...

With all due apologies to The Tubes, I present to you, our latest lovely addition to the Bird family garden in North Natomas. Isn't she just gorgeous? A sight to behold? Can't take your eyes off her? Neither can I. For me -- it was love at first sight.

No -- not the wife. Don't get me wrong. She's great too. Love her to death! But -- take a look at what the wife is modeling in our "Back 40" Natomas backyard. That is none other than the world famous Mantis Rototiller.

I've been looking to acquire a Mantis for years now, but wasn't quite ready to pony up the $400 because I wasn't sold on the product. And who blows $400 on something that was only available via mailorder up until just a few short years ago?

But -- as I started to read the user reviews -- I just knew I had to have one of these for the garden. And the reviews are right on the money. This baby packs quite the wallop and was well worth the investment of $150.

That's right. You read it correctly. This Mantis Rototiller cost $150 because I bought it used. I'd been scanning the Sacramento Bee classfieds and Craigslist for a couple of months, hoping to get one. But, everytime an ad popped up, somebody beat me to the punch. I came to discover that these things are gold. If you don't strike while the iron is hot, someone will get it before you.

Why used? Why not new? Because, I knew from experience, if I had bought a brand new Mantis, I would have suffered the inevitable "Buyer's Remorse." You see -- the plan is to beat the living H-E-Double Hockey Sticks out of this thing. The Mantis Rototiller won't be used to just "till the soil." No, it has a variety of uses. I'll put this baby to work later this spring digging trench lines for the new backyard lawn. The Mantis can also be used as an edger, and can even dig holes for the new trees and shrubs that I have yet to plant in the new backyard. To put it short and sweet -- this little machine is in for a real workout.

Plus -- if I had bought this new -- I would have regretted the very first scratch or dent caused by use. It would have bothered me to no end -- even though I could have easily afforded to "buy new." I'm just that cheap I suppose. I had to take a chance on buying a used Mantis -- and hope that my gamble paid off.

Boy, did it pay off.

I found this Mantis in an older section of South Sacramento. It started up easily enough when I visited the owner who was selling it. But the tines also showed signs of rust. It actually looked like the thing had been left out in the rain. But, you can replace tines. What I was worried about was the two-stroke engine. If it was in good shape -- then I had made a good deal.

One visit to the Lawn and Mower Repair shop in Elverta proved that I'd lucked into a valuable investment. The technician who tuned it up and replaced some key parts reported what I had initially suspected. The engine was "barely used." Someone bought this brand new, and then just left it outside in the elements.

One man's trash is another man's treasure!

The Mantis has been sitting in my garage for the past month and a half, just waiting for a chance to spring into action. That chance came last weekend. The sunshine that arrived during the first week of March following weeks of February rain dried out the backyard enough to access the raised planter beds.

I had the Mantis. I had three bags of Steer Manure compost. I had other compost at the ready. The time had come. It was time to put the new toy to work. And boy -- did it ever work -- beyond my wildest dreams. I managed to recharge this bed with all sorts of compost in a matter of minutes. The Mantis Rototiller made short work of chopping up the root systems left over from last year's tomato garden. It laughed at tough soil. It saved my back from hours of tilling up a 4X8 raised bed by hand.

As soon as this bed was done -- the wife immediately attacked with her planting efforts. The entire bed is now filled with seed potatoes -- two varieties -- known as "All Blue" and Cranberry Red." The wife's goal is to produce a "Red, White and Blue" Potato Salad creation for the 4th of July. And with the spuds now starting to sprout -- it just might happen.

I will use this Mantis to till up a section of the yard near the planter beds as part of an "experiment" later this summer. If South Natomas grower Nels Christenson can transform his clay soil into a productive garden (which he did) -- then I can certainly do the same in North Natomas.

And the Mantis will make it happen -- with ease.


Nels said...

congrats on the new tool of the trade. I am still building my soil despite farming my back yard for 23 years. I only use a shovel these days as gardening implement and I am pleased with the results. Let us talk some more about a possible plant exchange in April. Nels Christensen

Bill Bird said...

Nels, you've got 23 years on me then, but if you've made in work then I know you can grow something in this clay muck we call Natomas soil. I'm going to do some transplanting this weekend -- the plants are jumping up now. If you're interested in regular bell pepper plants, please let me know. I have way too many.

Nels said...

I will call you next weekend to discuss a couple of important matters. nc

Garry said...


the mantis is a nice machine, my father in law has one and i have used it - very effective. one thing to keep an eye on, they tend to bounce quite a bit (depends on hardness of soil) and this can cause an issue w/ the float in the carb. i ran into this when i used the mantis to level out the area for my raised beds. if it isnt bouncing too much, i wouldnt expect for you to have an issue.

Bill Bird said...


That's a good tip, and I'll keep a watch out for it. Don't expect it will bounce much in the beds, but when I try to accomplish what Nels has already accomplished in his backyard -- well -- I just might run into problems.