Repurposed Toboggan Used to Plant Big Garden

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A small yard tractor does the job of pulling the planter behind it.
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An old toboggan saves wear and tear on Preston's knees.

When planting thousands of plants in his garden became more work than fun, Gene Preston pulled out a toy from his childhood. Twenty years later, at 76, the Rochester, New York, gardener still uses his 8-foot toboggan, only now to plant his garden. What’s even better is that the IH collector uses his 1981 Cub Cadet Hydro 682 to pull it.

“I used to crawl along the ground planting,” Preston explains. “It was killing my knees.”

The wooden toboggan, with its curled up front and ample length, has plenty of room for Preston, three flats of plants, a radio, water to drink, and cushions to kneel on.

“I had to put wheel weights on the tractor because in the sand the wheels would slip a little,” Preston notes. “It’s also nice that these Cub Cadets have variable speed hydrostatic drives so they’re perfect for adjusting the speed. Peppers are closer together than squash, for example, so the tractor has to go slower.”

Preston starts the planting process by driving his Farmall tractor to mark rows 40 inches apart with trenches for plants. He places flats of plants at the ends of rows so they are handy to pick up when he is on the toboggan.

During the week that he plants nearly 5,000 plants including tomatoes, peppers, squash, and other varieties, he doesn’t have to worry about ­ finding an adult to pull him on a planter.

“Kids love to drive the Cub,” Preston says. “It works very well. It beats the alternative of crawling. I have thick cushions so it’s comfortable. I’m sitting back on my legs and I can plant on either side so I can change off and don’t get tired.”

After all his planting is ­ finished, Preston cleans off the toboggan and puts it away for the winter until the following spring. He laughs that he is too old to use it as a toboggan, but he enjoys the memories it sparks of riding down snowy hills with his brothers 65 years ago.

Reprinted with permission from FARM SHOW Magazine.

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