Turning Soil

backyard01It’s Springtime, the ‘season for new life’ as the pundits have called it over the millennia.  It’s also the season for weeds, invasive plants and other things growing in our gardens.  To that end, we have a limited amount of time to get things prepped before my wife and I go to our local garden center to purchase the items that are going to be blooming and festooning around our home this year.

We have a limited amount of space, because our property is rather small.  We have two separate lawns that we maintain, a few bushes that are left over from the previous owner(s) and as of this year, no trees.  There are multiple maple saplings trying to poke their way through the ground at different points in the backyard, but since none of them are in good places (usually around the foundations of the house) every year we cut them back, so as to keep some sort of disaster from happening. (no one wants a tree growing in the middle of their house unless it was purposefully designed to be there)

troy-bilt1Over the years we’ve assembled tools for this job, one of the most important ones is my wife’s 1970’s era Troy-Bilt™ Junior Roto-tiller.  For being close to 50 years old, it’s still in pretty good condition.  It’s the old workhorse that we have, my 30 yr old Agway snowblower comes in a close second.  Over the years it’s had some bumps and scrapes and a couple of tune-ups but in the last year or so it’s been running roughly, and over the winter I replaced the muffler that was pretty rusted, pitted and nearly useless.  Wednesday it took me a good 10 minutes of yanking the starter cord, fiddling with the choke to get it running, and even then it wouldn’t rev up to a higher RPM then a little above idle.  Even so I tried to take it out to the backyard, though when I attempted to use it in one of the easier beds, it didn’t do so very well under load.  After the third time the engine conked out, it took me another five minutes to get it started again.  Since the wheels are frozen on the axle, I can’t get them to move unless the engine is running.  After that I pretty much gave up and babied it back to the garage.  I figured after lunch I’d take apart the carburetor and see if I could do some tinkering to get it running more smoothly.

Even without the roto-tiller working adequately, I think we got a good amount of work done.  Between using the weed whacker to mow down the heavy-duty weeds, and using a garden fork to pull up dandelion roots, as well as digging out best we could knotweed stalks, the beds look way better than they did in the morning.  I even used my new non-clogging rake to collect the leaves from last fall, and deposit them on the brush pile behind the garage.  Though I expect my neighbor to the north is less than pleased to see the pile grow, as it backs up against part of his backyard.  He’s in the midst of his third year of transforming his father-in-law’s property into something of a cross between a Japanese garden and something I can’t quite put my finger on.  But at least it’s interesting to watch the transformation as it happens year to year.

In the evening, after taking a quick jaunt into the backwoods looking for the small engine repair place we used 2 years ago for the snowblower (finally found it, but it appeared abandoned) and then getting some lunch at a local hot dog stand, I checked out a couple of YouTube videos on repairing and cleaning carbs.  I then decided to do a little surgery on the tiller, and ended up with a problem almost immediately.  One of the nuts on the carb wouldn’t come off easily.  The first one did (finally), but the other one just spun on the bolt.  After ten minutes of screwing around with it (no pun intended) I gave up and went to get my Dremel.  Attaching a cutting wheel and then being sure I didn’t start a fire, I proceeded to cut off the offending bolt.  So, now I have to locate another bolt to put the carb back on when I finish messing around with it.  Too, I need to go to the Advanced Auto near here after work and get some carb cleaner, the right engine oil (SAE 30) as well as some shop rags, since this is going to be a messy job.  I’ve been mulling over just buying a new carburetor and calling it done, but I’d like to see if I can somehow resurrect this one, without having to call in an expert.  If all else fails, there are other small engine repair places in this area.

Oh, btw, this is what the garden area looks like now.  Pretty good if I do say so myself.

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