In Britain it is very difficult to hear the word “smallholding” without immediately thinking of Tom and Barbara Good’s jolly version of self-sufficiency in The Good Life. For a cosy primetime sitcom the programme did involve a lot more goats and gardening than usual, but in real life smallholdings are more about hard work than saucy innuendo and Tom and Barbara clearly didn’t consider the logistics of farming in Southwest London before adopting their new lifestyle. But running a smallholding can be very rewarding as well as hard work, and whether you are setting up a smallholding just to feed yourself and your family or as a commercial enterprise there are now a number of labour-saving devices available to help you with your work. One of the most important of these is a powerful rotary cultivator, with Honda’s mid-range tillers an excellent choice for demanding soil cultivation work.
This is because any smallholding will involve a lot of digging work, both while you are setting up planting patches and to ensure optimal growing conditions year after a year. Using a tiller for this will make routine soil cultivation almost effortless, while heavier workloads which would take hours to complete with a shovel can be finished in minutes with the right machine. When establishing a smallholding, investing in a powered tiller early on will therefore help to save significant time and effort over the years. This will give you more time to work on other areas of your land, such as if you hope to keep livestock as well as growing fruit and vegetables. Thus the demanding lifestyle of a smallholder becomes considerably more manageable with a help from a decent rotary cultivator (leaving a little time at the end of the day for a tipple on that homemade blackberry wine you’ve been saving).
Honda’s mid-range tillers are particularly perfect for the budding smallholder as they offer a brilliant combination of power, convenience and dependability. In addition to this they are user-friendly enough that even inexperienced operators will soon find themselves tilling with a steady hand, but tough enough to deliver years of exceptional service. Honda’s innovative mini four-stroke engines also give these machines a further advantage over competing tillers, with quiet, clean, smooth-running performance guaranteed. But with the variety of machines currently available it is still important to do a little research before you make your initial investment, with the best tiller for you depending on your specific requirements.
Those striving for self-sufficiency may be happy to maintain a smaller area of land for growing fruit and veg. Under such circumstances you will want a machine with enough power to prepare heavy soil for planting, but enough finesse that you will be able to use it for weeding between narrowly planted rows of crops. Honda produces a number of mid-tine tillers which fit the bill here, including the F220 and FG315 (we’re afraid this model is no longer available.) The first of these – the F220 – is a compact rotary cultivator equally suited to work in larger domestic gardens and smallholdings. Powered by a hardworking 57cc Honda GXV four-stroke petrol engine, the F220’s maximum tilling width of 54.5cm and crop protection discs make it a perfect choice for those seeking an effective way of tackling ongoing soil maintenance work.
The FG315, meanwhile, offers a little more bang for your buck via its 160cc Honda GC160 four-stroke engine and an increased maximum working width of 80cm. This means that you will be able to prepare larger areas of land for seeding more efficiently, while dual speed transmission with a reverse gear helps free the digging equipment should it become stuck. The FG315’s set of six digging tines and crop protection discs are also individually detachable, so you can tailor the setup to suit the particular job at hand. Furthermore, the F220 and FG315 both benefit from a variety of clever ergonomic design features, perhaps the best of which are the side-swivelling handlebars designed to enable operation from any angle. As well as improving manoeuvrability in confined areas this means that you won’t trample freshly turned soil as you work up and down rows of crops, thereby ensuring exceptional results every time.
For larger smallholdings, however, you might need something even more powerful than these little beasts. But thanks to Honda’s inclusive design policy – with a cultivator available for every occasion imaginable – you can enjoy the benefits of professional quality tiller performance without having to shell out on a costly commercial machine. The best mid-tine cultivators in such circumstances are probably Honda’s FJ500 SER and FJ500 DER. Built to be light and manoeuvrable enough for weeding between rows of crops but heavy duty enough to tackle tough soil cultivation with ease, Honda’s FJ500 machines feature potent 163cc GX160 four-stroke engines and come with a set of six detachable tines for variable working widths between 32.5cm and 80cm. This extra clout and versatility makes these machines perfect for those growing a variety of different crops, allowing you to customise your Honda tiller for a range of different jobs.
Both FJ500 machines also come with a reverse gear and crop protections discs as standard, but for a little extra convenience the FJ500 DER features a second forward gear and a retractable front transport wheel. The former of these helps to optimise tilling performance in different soil conditions, so if you’ll be working on varied terrain this can be a massive benefit. The transportation wheel, on the other hand, simply makes it easier to get the FJ500 DER to where it is needed, which can actually make a big difference on larger properties. These added features and Honda’s legendary build quality mean that the FJ500 DER is pretty much the ultimate in tiller technology for those looking to grow their own fruit and vegetables on a larger scale than is possible in the average garden. And while a Honda tiller might not have the same charm as Geraldine the Goat, it will make fulfilling your Good Life fantasies a great deal easier.