Wanna buy a garden tiller?

Yesterday's post was a look back over last year's posts, but today I take a look back even further to show you how things have changed. Have you ever considered buying a garden tiller of some sort? Do you own one already? How did you choose it, from an ad in a gardening magazine perhaps? If so, then I can probably take a guess what you have: either a Mantis tiller, or a model from DR. Why would I guess those? Because they're just about the only advertised tillers I see these days, or are certainly the most widely advertised.

Back in 1977 though, a gardener who had time to read about their hobby or home farm had more choices. Many more choices. Last year my neighbor cleaned out part of his basement and found a 1977 issue of Organic Gardening magazine and gave it to me. Although the articles are still relevant today, the ads are what caught my attention.


After paging through the magazine a few times, I realized that I was seeing a lot of ads for tillers.

How many did I find? If I count just ads that mention tillers or have photos of tillers, there are 16 of them. If I limit it to one ad per company, and exclude any tractor attachment tillers, or anything that is not engine-powered, there are still 11 different choices. Eleven! Let's take a look at some of them:

ROTO-HOE - don't think they're around anymore.

International Harvester is around as CaseIH,
but certainly not making anything this small anymore.

Not actually a tiller, but related. 

Troy-Bilt is still around and making garden tillers.

Nope, don't think so.

Yellowbird? Sounds like a name that
could catch on in today's market.

Looks familiar, doesn't it? The company name doesn't though.

Snapper doesn't make these anymore.

Never heard of it.

Ariens must have been big at the time, as they had 2 ads in this issue.

Looks powerful!

Gilson. Bought by Lawn-Boy in the 80's. Read about Gilson here.

Back inside cover. One of the most expensive spots for ads.
This company must be moving up, but not yet top of the tiller world.

Back cover. THE most expensive ad page.
This company must be king of tillers.
They'll be around forever, right?

Here's a push version. Imagine a reel mower that cuts into the ground.
Must have been almost impossible to move through all but the
loosest of soils. I wonder why these didn't catch on?
(I didn't want to Google "Hoeboy")

How many of these machines are still operating today, happily tilling the soil 30 years after their original owners saw an ad in a little gardening magazine and made the purchase?

How many of those companies still exist? How many merged with other companies, or changed their manufacturing focus, or went under?  I don't like thinking about that.

I do like reading these old ads though. Those 1977 prices are pretty nice too!

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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (March 6, 2011 at 12:20 PM)  

One advantage of a small lot like ours: you certainly don't need a tiller :-).

Alan  – (March 9, 2011 at 10:21 AM)  

The interesting thing about this post is my neighbor has never had a garden while he lived here (longer than 20 years), so why does he have vintage issues of Organic Gardening magazine?

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