We received another shipment of ollas today. For those of you who have ollas on backorder – the wait is over! Thanks for your patience.
We’ve been increasing this effective clay pot irrigation method here on the urban homestead. To conserve even more water this season, we are adding ollas many of our raised beds and containers. Having first used this method of irrigation about 3 years ago we have noticed a considerable difference in the growth of plants that are planted near the ollas. The plants are healthier and their growing season is slightly extended since they don’t seem to get stressed due to the constant flow of underground moisture.
What is an Olla?
An ollas (pronounced oh-yah) is a handmade terracotta clay pot used as an ancient method of drip irrigation for container gardening or ground applications. Ancient agrarian cultures living in or near desert regions have used olla irrigation methods for millennia. Thought to have originated in Northern Africa and brought to the Americas by the conquistadors, research has also found ollas used in China over 4000 years ago.
How to Use an Olla
1. Bury the Olla in soil leaving the neck exposed.
2. Plant seeds or plants within 2” – 5” radius based on olla size.
3. Fill the Olla with water and let it do the work.
The water slowly seeps through the unglazed porous clay, directly irrigating roots that will encircle the jar to absorb leaking moisture.
Ollas virtually eliminate the runoff and evaporation common in modern irrigation systems, allowing the plant to absorb nearly 100 percent of water. In places with water conservation ordinances, ollas can help maintain a steady flow of water to plants because they dramatically reduce the need to water.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: How often does an Olla need to be filled with water?
A: Depending on factors such as the plant’s water needs, soil type, time of year, and environment Ollas may need filling weekly or daily. Always check the moisture level of the soil before refilling because an empty Olla doesn’t necessarily mean the plant needs more watering.
Q: What size Olla should I use?
A: As a general guide, smaller Ollas are good for container gardening. The larger Ollas are good for larger containers or outside ground applications. A plant’s water needs should also determine the Olla size (tomatoes and melons and other high water plants need a larger Olla)
Q: Should I take my Ollas out of the ground for the winter?
A: Probably to be safe. Our research has shown damage to some Ollas (out of hundreds) when left buried in the ground over winter. If you live in a region where it does not freeze, you might be able to leave them in the ground. You can leave Ollas in your indoor plants for as many years as your like.
Also check out our previous journal entries
Readers, do you have any ollas “discoveries” to add? How are they working in your garden?