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Mantis Small Garden Tillers (& some Lighthearted stuff...Like Weiner Dogs)

Updated on January 16, 2015

Mantis Rototillers - Is It The Best Small Garden Tiller?

Ooh boy... Writing about Mantis Rototillers and Cultivators, and actually trying to be objective: IS it the best small garden tiller?

(By the way... This page started out to be an Ode to my Mantis - but I went off on a bit of a you'll see) This photo is of my husband, John, tilling our garden with our little Mantis.

You may wonder why it's hard for me to be objective. It's because I have actually had my own little Mantis 2-cycle Tiller for about 13 or 14 years. It was a gift from my dad - he knows how much John & I love gardening! PS: See the 2 homegrown YouTube videos I made of our actual garden! :) They are both down below...

Anyway, as I update this article, it's January, 2014. Now, normally, the very THOUGHT of winter makes me cold. But... as I write, I happen to be in South Carolina (North Myrtle Beach) where I'm spending my winter. But, "back home" - which is northern New Hampshire, typically get 5 or 6 feet of snow piled up in front of our driveway. (I'll prove it - scan below, and I'll show you a photo!).

But I digress... I'm here today to talk about Mantis Rototillers and Cultivators. And I WILL do my best to be objective. Ok? Great! Let's begin!

Oh - one more thing... I'm in a kind of playful mood, so I hope you don't mind my putting a little FUN into this article! :)

(PS: Quick Total Transparency Note: I do market these cool small garden tillers, so be aware that if you purchase one through my links or other websites, I will earn a commission. I thank you for your support - and you can be assured that you're getting the recommendation from an actual user!)

Before We Begin... - Arlo Guthrie Sings The Garden Song (with commentary)

Let's get into the Gardening Mood first!

Ok, we love Arlo. John actually got to sit down at breakfast w/ Arlo years ago in the 1970s when Arlo was playing somewhere in New Hampshire. Evidently, Arlo is as cool off-stage as he is on-stage. On YouTube, there was a version that I liked a little better, but this one is ok too. This particular video is a little grainy, but the only one I could find. Enjoy!

Mantis Rototillers and Stuff at our friendly Amazon store!

I have found increasingly good deals on just about everything at Amazon. And Mantis products are no different. Actually, they make more than "just tillers" these days as I've come to discover. For example, they even have a wood/log splitter. Now, THIS is something we may wind up getting. Even though we've been heading to warmer climates for the winters, we still heat with wood in the cooler days and nights during spring and fall. So have a look!

And here are a few of the other related Mantis items...

Again, I mentioned wood splitters above. There are also certain attachments that are handy!


Ok. Back to Talking about Mantis Rototillers

Again, IS Mantis the best small garden tiller on the market?

I know there will be people who swear by Mantis. There are also people who swear AT the Mantis. :) Obviously there are pros and cons.

Because I've had mine for so many years, I have to say that I'm really quite attached to the little fella. (Again, once I get home, I'll take and post some photos of our own Mantis 2-cycle in action.)

Here are some of the things I really like about the Mantis:

- It is VERY lightweight. The whole kit-n-kaboodle is only about 24 pounds. That makes it light enough for me to lug around and maneuver.

- The maintenance for a Mantis Rototiller/Cultivator is pretty easy I added a YouTube video below about Mantis maintenance.

- For a small machine, it really can tear up quite a garden space. Our garden is about 20 feet x 20 feet, then the garlic bed is another 6 feet x 12 feet. We get all the garden area tilled within about an hour.

Maintenance Points to Keep in Mind:

You want to use CLEAN fuel. Don't think you can put the tiller in the garage in November with old fuel in the tank, and then expect to bring it out in the spring and have it crank up on the first pull. It ain't gonna happen. :) You'll probably want to put a fresh spark plug in as well.

We're fortunate enough to have a wonderful neighbor who is the small-engine repair king. Hmmm. Actually, we live on a road where SEVERAL neighbors are pretty handy when it comes to small engines.

Anyway, my point is, the Mantis is easy to maintain. For me, I can just bring the thing over to Greg in the spring and let him look it over and make sure I'm good to go.

This is for Gardeners! - Do You Use a Rototiller?

Attention gardeners! If you have a garden, do you till it with a rototiller? If so, which one? Or do you do it the old-fashioned way (i.e. back-breaking shovelling by hand. Ouch!) :)

How do you till your garden?

See results
Kathy's Driveway - Which CLEARLY Shows Why We Go South For The Winter
Kathy's Driveway - Which CLEARLY Shows Why We Go South For The Winter

Ooops! I Promised to Show You WHY I Can't Till The Garden Yet!

Drum roll please....

Ta da! Here is a photo of the bottom of my driveway. This particular photo was taken in February of 2009 I think - but it always looks like this in February.

Ya know... There are a LOT of people in my town who live for this. Seriously. I'm not one of them. I spent a bunch of time working in Antarctica from 1984 - 1991, so I can - in good faith - say that I sure have given cold-weather living a try. I really have.

John has winter-withdrawal pangs once in a while, because he has been an avid ice-climber. But, he's getting used to not shovelling.

Ok. Back to Mantis Rototillers - Are they the BEST small garden tiller for sale today? Let's continue...

Our Mantis Tiller, hanging outside
Our Mantis Tiller, hanging outside

4 Primary Types of Mantis Rototillers and Cultivators

How do I love thee... Let me count the ways. Ok. 4 ways.

I'll try to be a little more serious here. There are 4 basic types of Mantis Rototillers/Cultivators. That's not to say Mantis doesn't have MORE products. They do. They have a cool little woodsplitter, composting equipment, etc. But that's for later.

For right now, let me outline what the 4 basic tillers are, and how they differ.

Mantis 2-cycle Tiller

This is the "Classic" Mantis. It weighs about 20 pounds - this is the one I have. This is a 2-cycle, 21.2 cc engine (whatever THAT means). I liken it to the sound of a chain saw. But bigger. Sounds like I can put it off the back of a canoe and it would zip me around the lake. Takes a gas/oil mix for fuel. It's a little louder than the others.

Mantis 4-cycle Tiller

Weighing in at 24 pounds, this little guy is a step up in strength from the 2-cycle in that it's a ... ummm... 4-cycle, 25cc engine by Honda. Evidently that means something good.. This one is a little quieter than the 2-cycle. This does NOT need a gas/oil mix. I'm guessing it doesn't sound as much like a chain saw. But, I'll bet it would do a good job pushing a boat. Just switch the tines w/ some propellers, and let's go!

Mantis Electric Tiller

You probably guessed that this does NOT run on gas at all. :) It weighs and costs about the same as the 2-cycle. The specs say that it is a 115 volt, double insulated, 3/4 horsepower engine with a 544 watt circuit breaker. Sounds impressive, doesn't it? The only thing I know about electric things is that they plug into an outlet. I know what a plug is. I know what an electric cord is. I know what an outlet is, and I know what a rototiller is. So, I'm guessing I could run it. As long as I paid attention and didn't run OVER the cord.

Mantis XP 16-inch Tiller

Now THIS puppy sounds like one I'd like to try. The tilling width on the XP is 16 inches (versus 9 inches on the other models). I can tell just by looking at the numbers that this is bigger. First of all it's 34 pounds, so that must mean something. This one boasts a 35cc, 4-cycle Honda GX35 engine (I know that means something to people who understand motors).

I have the company's product as well as our "Mantis Adventures" at my Mantis Tiller blogspot page, and once you click on any of the Mantis products there.

John Denver Sings The Garden Song - With The Muppets

Whew... It got WAY too serious up there, talking about engine thingies I don't quite understand. Time for a soothing song. Who better than the late great John Denver (I have sung many of his songs over the years).

Anyway, I used to sing this song myself when I played at the Fryeburg Fair in Fryburg, ME. Personally, I thought I did a pretty good job! :) I sing the song using more or less this version as sung by John Denver.

If there's a Weiner Dog Convention, why not a Mantis Convention?
If there's a Weiner Dog Convention, why not a Mantis Convention?

Does Anyone NOT Like the Mantis Small Garden Tillers?

Of course! But who wants to listen to them...

I'm only kidding. :) Of course there are people who don't like the Mantis small garden tillers. There are people who don't like pancakes too, so what's up with that? Or chocolate chip cookies. Actually, I have an "honorary daughter" who does NOT like chocolate chip cookies. Some people are just beyond understanding.

Ok. I'll try to be serious again.

Sigh. I really am so serious most of the time, that when I'm doing Squidoo lenses, it seems like one of the only places on this otherwise serious planet that I can have fun with my writing.

After all - when you see words like "squidsnog" and "squidoodle" and stuff like that, doesn't that just make you think of FUN?

Once again I digress. But what else is new?

Yes, I have found negative reviews for this marvelous small garden tiller. It breaks my heart. But, some people say that they have a difficult time starting it. I wonder if they have an older model, or if the gas/oil mix isn't correct, or if there is a dirty sparkplug or something.

But honestly, that seems to be the biggest complaint I've read in the "cons" column when I was doing my research.

MOST people love their Mantis. I think there must be some kind of "We Love Mantis" support group out there somewhere - because it almost seems like a garden cult of some kind. To me, it was just another rototiller that I really liked.

=> Seque to Weiner Dog Convention Story and Attempt to Connect with Relevance to Mantis Rototillers

I remember once John & I were visiting New York City, and we ran into a weiner dog convention in Union Square. I mean, there were HUNDREDS of people with their little weiner dogs of ALL shapes and sizes. I never knew there were blue dacshunds out there, but that day, I am telling you: I saw a blue weiner dog.

So, now I'm picturing people from all over bringing their various Mantis Rototillers/Cultivators into the city, and converging on Union Square, comparing their small garden tillers, talking lovingly about them - maybe even petting them. Maybe they name them. From reading some of the reviews on Mantis, I would say that the people who love their Mantis REALLY love it.

What shall I name my old faithful and trusty Mantis? Hmmm... Any ideas?

Should I name my Mantis? If so, what is an appropriate name for a Mantis? Maybe I should just ask you to comment on the Mantis or my lens in general. How's that? Ok... Let's go with that.

Rocks DO Sometimes get caught in the Manits Tiller Tines
Rocks DO Sometimes get caught in the Manits Tiller Tines

Getting Personal: My Own Issues with my Mantis Rototiller

I still think it's the best small garden tiller out there...

Over the years, I have had a couple of small issues with my own little Mantis 2-cycle tiller.

Those small issues are called "rocks" up in northern New Hampshire.

It seems that EVERY single year, we grow more rocks. I honestly don't recall planting any, but evidently they are a winter crop that get harvested upon the first spring tilling.

Now, I'm not really sure that this is a problem with the MANTIS per se - but when I catch a rock of a certain size - say, about the size of a potato - it sometimes lodges in between the tines, and I have to stop what I'm doing and DIS-lodge the little bugger.

It doesn't happen ALL the time, but I have yet to till the garden in spring without hearing that old familiar sound of tine on rock.

If I happen to be using the Mantis to clear weeds (which is likely, because I am lazy when it comes to weeding)...

... and it catches too many long strands of weeds (which is likely, because I usually procrastinate about weeding until the weeds are 30 feet high) - well, then I have to stop the Mantis and pull a few hundred feet of overgrown weeds that have wrapped themselves around the tines.

But other than that, I truly have never had problems with the Mantis Rototiller.

Of course, as I write this, it is February, and I'm still at the beach - and my garden is 1500 miles north of me, still covered in snow. We'll see in May how we do!

Giant Veggies from the Garden
Giant Veggies from the Garden

Update: It's May - I'm home and still can't garden!

Because it's still WINTER here!

Ok. So we're home from the beach. And we cannot yet begin the garden even though it's May. It's been rainy and yucky these last few days since we got home, and it snowed in the mountains above us (makes for a lovely sight on this gorgeous sunny morning though!)

BUT... I thought I would share a photo of two of our most amazing results that have EVER come out of our garden... Ladies & gentlemen, I bring to you the Giant Veggies from John & Kathy's Garden... No, folks, this potato and carrot were NOT exposed to some bizarre or secret scientific experiment. Must have been a lot of compost in that end of the garden!

They weighed over a pound each. :)

Although we had a number of large red potatoes and carrots a couple of years ago, these two would have taken the prize at the Fair! We had a lot of fun with these... Brought them on tour in towns all around, where gawkers threw money as they watched me dance them in front of the crowds. :) (uh...just kidding... but you knew that, right?)

They were VERY tasty. Of course we were able to feed the entire town with these two. :)

(NOTE: As of June 1st we STILL cannot till the major garden! Now it's MUD instead of snow and cold!)

(NOTE: WE FINALLY GOT THE GARDEN IN! After we got the truck that was loaded with manure TOTALLY stuck in the mud near the garden! Wish I had taken a photo of THAT! Anyway, I think I forgot to mention that I have a nice little blog about Mantis Rototillers for Sale HERE at Blogger The blog came out kind of cute! But... no weiner dogs there. :) )

Welcome to the Tremblay Family Garden! :) - This is one of John's passions...

Here, I made a little video of John prepping the garden with our Mantis. Further on down this page, you'll see the season's RESULTS in another little video! :) Enjoy...

Mantis Tillers - Maintenance and Troubleshooting - Nice Video Covering Basic Mantis Maintenance

I found the following video that shows some good tips for basic maintenance and troubleshooting for Mantis Rototillers and Cultivators. This is quite helpful and covers pretty much all the basics. I mean, really - these are not complicated machines. That's what John and Greg tell me, anyway. What do I know? I just use it. But, I'll take their words for it. :)

There are also good deals on Mantis on eBay

Of course a lot depends on the time of the year, but I'm adding this section that will show you, in real time, if anyone is selling Mantis brand cultivators, lot splitters or accessories on eBay. Take a peek!

FINALE! The Garden Song - as sung by its composer, the wonderful David Mallett! - David Mallett of Maine wrote this classic in 1978

This is one of my favorite songs to sing - and I wanted to finish up this lens with a video of The Garden Song as sung by its original composer, David Mallett. So many people have covered this song over the years, but I don't think that anyone does it as well as the originator. I hope you enjoy it! I've seen Dave perform at the Maine Organic Farm and Garden Association's amazing Common Ground Fair in Unity Maine.

FINAL DRUM ROLL! Ta Da! Our Results for the season! - The garden looks a little more crowded now!

We had a wonderful harvest! (Please excuse the "muddy" piano playing at beginning and end... I was trying to record from my old spinet onto computer. It was kind of a last minute thought...)

What Was YOUR Favorite Version of The Garden Song - Arlo Gurthrie? John Denver? David Mallett?

Ok folks... I'm putting myself out on a limb here. What did you think of the three versions of The Garden Song that I shared here? Did you prefer the social commentary of Arlo Guthrie? The ever popular John Denver and the Muppets? Or the version by the actual composer of this beloved song, David Mallett? Or... was there someone else you liked better? (It couldn't be ME and my own version, unless you've heard me sing it. Sadly, I don't have myself on tape playing this.) :)

Which version of The Garden Song did you prefer?

See results

Related Links to Mantis Rototillers and Weiner Dogs - AND the Garden Song

I love writing, as you can see!

Thank you so much for visiting and reading (and listening). I'd love to hear from you, and hope you'll sign my guestbook below.

What Should I Name My Mantis? - Or should I see a specialist about my thoughts of a Mantis Convention?

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    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 

      6 years ago from USA

      I try not to name my tools (it's too hard to say bye to things you've named), but I did have a shovel we named Ace. Enjoyed your piano playing. I could use some of those giant rocks you have in your yard. We love our Mantis, and have already used it this year to prep the garden.

    • earthybirthymum profile image


      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I've always wanted a tiller, I use raised bed, so the want is no longer a need, but if I had a few more acres, I'd need one :) Great Lense!

    • writerkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @julieannbrady: Julie! You win! I love it! Tilly it is! Can't wait to tell my hubby... I need to write about this in my Mantis blog! :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      How about Tilly Mantis? Friendly, social version of Tiller. Wish I had one!

    • writerkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @Virginia Allain: LOL! We find so many rocks, I just wish we could find something to do with them all! :)

    • writerkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @flicker lm: You are welcome! Getting ready to get back north and use it once again! :)

    • writerkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @amazonnottadog: I'm so pleased you enjoyed the read! :)

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      7 years ago from Central Florida

      My NH garden is now devoted totally to blueberry bushes, blackberries and strawberries, so no more tilling for me. I still harvest an occasional rock though.

    • flicker lm profile image

      flicker lm 

      7 years ago

      I have been considering getting a Mantis, but haven't decided yet. Thanks for the personal recommendation.

    • amazonnottadog profile image


      7 years ago

      LOL It is very thoughtful and sweet of you to name your tiller. I may give mine one. That was a good read too.

    • whiteskyline lm profile image

      whiteskyline lm 

      7 years ago

      Hmmm, praying mantis? LOL! Or see a specialist..not quite sure :)

    • writerkath profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @TonyPayne: Thanks for the validation Poddys! I don't feel so alone now! LOL... By the way, When I mention naming the Mantis, he gave me a rather ... uh... unusual look.:)

      Thanks so much for visiting! By the way, I LOVE your lenses!

      :) Kath

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      8 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I like to name tools and things, it's a fun idea.

    • writerkath profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @justholidays: For me it'll be not so much the BEGINNING of spring as much as a little LATER in spring. I just got off the phone with someone in Vermont who has 4 feet of snow in his yard as of last plowing. :) I have another friend who said she'd try to take a new photo of my own house in northern NH so that I can compare drifts from 2009. :) Thanks so much for visiting my lens Prosperity!


      Kath :)

    • justholidays profile image


      8 years ago

      I NEED a garden tiller right now! Ooops! At least by the beginning of the spring, lol.


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