How much do you pay to hire a rotavator as when I looked into it I could have bought one for the cost of around four weekends hire?
The Mantis can jump around a bit until you get used to handling it as it doesn't have the weight of a full size rotovator. I've never had a problem starting it though. The place I bought it showed me the technique, which is to open the choke, give 2 pulls with the choke open (it starts and then cuts out), close the choke and 1 pull starts it properly. Sounds like a faff about but quickly becomes 2nd nature. I was also told to leave it idling for a minute before starting to use it. Obeying that advice and never had any problem.
very tempted by "no dig"
Have you tried it Leif?
Barry island it was a few years ago about £50 then, think it was the 8hp one
Have looked up a few places for priced
If you live in the south there is Beaver tool hire http://www.beavertoolhire.co.uk/tool-hire-catalogue/216/Rotovators/
Or Jewson's more pricey http://www.jewson.co.uk/tool-hire/landscaping/rotavators/products/6555/rotavator-heavy-duty/
Or Homebase http://homebase.hirestation.co.uk/tool-hire/Garden%20and%20Landscaping/Garden%20Preparation/140010/
For the area you have to do it might be worth hiring something more powerful than a Mantis if you want to avoid a manual 'winter dig'. If you're happy to do that winter dig by hand then the Mantis will certainly do the job in the spring to break up the remaining lumps.
I have read about the no dig method of gardening and it looks to make complete sense not to ever have to dig again however, I wanted to plant out a row of kohl rabi but the area of my allotment which previously had onions in it had gone to weed quite badly since harvesting the onions so I dug it over by hand, now considering that it has been winter dug for three years I was surprised that it was full of bindweed and couch grass mainly at each side where it meets the paths and also thistles and docks all over. Now my concern with the no dig method is how do you remove weeds like couch grass and bindweed that are coming under the soil from neighbouring plots without digging?
Hostafan1: yes I use no dig. This year my parsnips, root parsley and salsify are a dense thicket of vegetation, carrots are excellent, leeks healthy, french beans abundant. I do almost no weeding. I have heavy clay soil, stoney too.
Regarding weeds from neighbours, I have no idea. I put down some breeze blocks, two rows high, to prevent hedge bindweed coming across from next door. They were free. But for an allotment, dunno. I can only suggest a barrier 30cm or more deep, but it'll cost money.