. . . like it does every year

Every year I respond to the summer heat by watering more; sometimes watering twice a day, every day. Typically I run 500 feet of soaker hoses across the yard. However, after last year’s $SCARY$ water bill, I’ve been desperate to find an alternative solution to complicated drip systems or the common in-ground lawn sprinkler systems. With the heavy clay soil that makes up my garden, it seems like no matter how much I pour on my plants, water doesn’t seem to penetrate into the root layer. They just can’t seem to stay lush in this heat! Fortunately, I have a genius husband who ran across this ancient water technique called, “Ollas”

Ollas (pronounced “oy-yahs”)

Ollas are unglazed clay/terra-cotta pots with a bottle or tapered shape that are buried in the ground with the top/neck exposed above the soil surface and filled with water for sub-surface irrigation of plants. This irrigation technology is an ancient method, thought to have originated in Northern Africa with evidence of use in China for over 4000 years and still practiced today in several countries, notably India, Iran, Brazil –

You can make your own Ollas

With a caulking gun, grab a tube of silicone and a terracotta pot with a similar sized saucer. Glue the top of the saucer to the top of the pot. Smooth the excess silicone across the gap until there are no more gaps for water to leak out of. Once the silicone is cured, fill the Olla up with water and test for leaks. Add more silicone as needed. Then bury the Olla into the soil and fill with water. I use a funnel to aid in filling the Ollas. *see the above images for examples.

Capillary action causes the Olla to stay cooler than the surrounding area, and it also slowly leaks out moisture which the plant’s roots take up as needed. I can go 3-4 days between refills.

Grow Tips

  1. Make sure there are no cracks in the pot or saucer, otherwise the pot won’t work right.
  2. Try making a few small ollas before making a large one.
  3. If you mess up and brake a few pots, you can use the shards to cover the pour-poles on the working ollas

Buried clay pot irrigation provides controlled irrigation to plants. Water seeps out through the clay wall at a rate that is influenced by the plant’s water use. This leads to very high efficiency–considerably better than drip irrigation and many times better than conventional surface irrigation. – David Bainbridge

Afraid to make your own Ollas?
~~~ BUY OLLAS! ~~~

(click on each image for more info)

Gardening with Less Water:
Use up to 90% Less Water in Your Garden

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Froggy Water Supplier

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This little guy is perfect for
windowsill herb gardens

Self Watering Devices for Indoor Outdoor Plants

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You will need to use an inverted glass bottle with these.

I use big glass mineral water bottles with these watering stakes!

Terracotta Growoya Vessel

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Add Olla Pots into your
vegetable garden
balcony oasis
Your plants will thank you with more flowers and more fruit.