If you’ve got a big garden or an allotment, you’ve probably struggled at some point to dig a large patch of land manually. Digging is certainly a good workout, and some people really enjoy it, but I’m definitely not one of them!
We’ve had our allotment for three years now, and while there are some raised beds which we don’t dig, there’s a good chunk of land that gets trodden down and needs digging over each year. It’s a laborious job, and with busy family life in the mix I’ve struggled to keep on top of it if I’m honest. So, when the team at Cobra asked me to review their new 10” cultivator, I jumped at the chance!
So what exactly is a cultivator? You might also know these garden tools by the name of rotavator, and they basically do the digging for you. Metal blades rotate to break up, loosen and turn over the soil, and you ‘drive’ them via a handle, a bit like you would a lawnmower. Cultivators can also be used to mix compost or fertiliser into soil before planting.
Cobra are a relatively new brand, having launched in 2013, but they are supported by Henton & Chattell, who have over 80 years experience in the garden machinery and horticultural industry, so they definitely know their stuff! All Cobra products are designed in the UK to cater specifically for the changing conditions we experience in our gardens.
I was particularly keen to try out the new T24C 10” cultivator, as it’s specifically designed to be compact and lightweight. We’re not growing our own on a massive scale, so it’s ideal for our allotment plot.
The Cobra T24C 10″ Cultivator – First Impressions
Out of the box, the T24C is pretty compact. Setup is very straightforward, and took us about ten minutes. You need to unfold the handle and fasten it with bolts, then attach the plate at the top (a spanner is included for this job).
You can return the handle to folded for storage if you’re tight on space.
The two wheels are used to transport it; you need to raise them during use, and the instructions don’t tell you how to do this. We spent quite a while trying to work it out, then called the supplier for advice – it’s actually very easy once you know how! You simply slide the central cylinder to the left, this compresses a spring and allows you to lift both wheels up. It’s a bit of an oversight in the instructions, but I suspect there’ll be an amendment made for future production runs.
The T24C is petrol powered, which is great for us as there isn’t a power supply at our allotment. I’m a big fan of cordless garden tools in general, I find them much more convenient to use as they avoid all the fiddly setup and trip hazards of electric cables. The engine is powered by 2-stroke fuel, which is a mixture of oil and petrol. You can mix your own (following the ratios in the instructions), but for safety and convenience I much prefer buying it ready-mixed from the supplier.
The engine is 43cc and delivers 5,000 rpm and 1.25kW of power. In real terms, that made it more than capable of dealing with our compacted soil. The steel blades are really robust, and feel like they’ll last a long time without showing much wear and tear.
The handle is comfortable to grip, and the whole thing is easy to manoeuvre. This model is hand-propelled, which means it’s down to you to push it through the soil, so there is some effort required. I really didn’t find this arduous, more a case of steering with a bit of encouragement. Larger Cobra models are self-propelled, which would be a good option if you’re looking to take as much effort out of the job as possible.
It took a bit of practice to get the hang of using the T24C – I’ve never used a cultivator before – but it wasn’t long before it had made light work of the soil. I found that the best result was achieved by going over the same area two or three times; obviously this will vary depending on how dry and compacted your soil is. It’s not the quietest of garden tools (it’s a petrol engine after all), but the noise wasn’t excessive. As you’d expect from a cultivator, you do get vibration on the handles, but it’s certainly not at a level which prevents long periods of use.
I think the relatively small 10” tilling width helps with control; as someone who isn’t particularly strong I think I’d struggle with a bigger machine. I also like the fact that the 10” width allows you to get into really tight areas, and even work around existing crops in the ground. Obviously, a wider tilling width allows you to cultivate more soil in the same amount of time, and there are other Cobra models available to cover that need.
One thing that I was worried about before trying out the T24C was just how much space we’d need to store it. Our shed isn’t huge and I had visions of a great big machine filling it up, but that isn’t the case. With the handle folded down it takes up about as much room as your average lawnmower.
Using the Cobra T24C has taken so much of the hard work out of preparing our plot for this year’s plants. I’ve found it easy to use, and it has done a really thorough job of cultivating our soil with pretty minimal effort on our part. While it’s a compact and lightweight model, it feels well-made and built to last, and it’s not difficult to store which is a real bonus. If you’ve got an allotment or a decent sized garden that you need to cultivate regularly, I think it’s ideal.
The Cobra T24C 10” cultivator retails at £169.99 and is part of a large garden range, including lawnmowers, handheld garden power tools, and garden equipment. All Cobra power tool products have a two year warranty, and stockists offer after-sales assistance and servicing too. You can find out more about the full range here.
Could the compact Cobra T24C cultivator take the hard work out of digging for you?
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Cobra supplied the T24C for review purposes. All comments and opinions are honest and genuine.