Clay pot irrigation bed

The raised rock bed which we semi-buried three unglazed pots to “drip irrigate” has finally filled out. The herbs are ready to harvest and the peppers, eggplant and tomatoes aren’t too far off.

With all the new changes/improvements to the backyard this year’s garden is going to be a new learning experience. The backyard’s dynamics have changed considerably since we started this project and now with the concrete removed the yard takes on a whole new life. Our normal planting routines have been altered – less self watering pots, new raised beds and accent areas. This year will be an experimental year, for most parts of the backyard, it feels as if we are gardening in an entirely new place.


Besides the major roofing construction that looms over our head we have water on the brain – grey water, rain water projects. So many of the projects we had planed to tackle this summer will be probably postponed a few months because of the roof. Since the entire roof will need to be removed down to the rafters, we are concerned about all the plants around the house and how we will protect them.    Hopefully the roofing construction will go well (won’t take long) so we can move on to other more productive projects. To save some money, we are considering doing as much as we can ourselves.

The next few weeks we will be working overtime to get the garden settled, the animal enclosure finished, build a goat house and try to start the grey water reclamation job before work on the roof starts sometime in July.   We gals are hoping to hatch chickens, however we wonder where/when are we going to find the time. We ask ourselves if we should just shelve this project for awhile since we already are spinning too many plates at the moment and another plate would send all the plates crashing and we wouldn’t want any broken plates.    We still have yet to work on part two of this site, we are just as frustrated as you readers who are eagerly awaiting the expanded section which will detail our projects.   We are shooting to finish this section by the end of June – if everything runs smoothly.


We received a verypractical gift in the mail from Lehman’s. Thank you to the‘Ready or Not’ film crew for this lamp, it will be a valuable and useful item here on the homestead.   Thank you all, it’s not often we get such wonderful surprises in the mail. Everyone loves a surprise now and then.


Ollas? Oh, Yeah!

Now, one ancient irrigation technique is making a comeback in New Mexico, California, and other drought-prone climates. Irrigation with ollas (unglazed clay pots) is simple and extremely efficient, but the system gave way to modern watering techniques in New Mexico decades ago, said Curtis Smith, a horticulture specialist with New Mexico State University’s Cooperative Extension Service.Under the system, gardeners fill unglazed clay urns with water and bury them near plants. The water slowly seeps through the porous clay, directly irrigating roots. The tops of the ollas (pronounced OH-yas) extend above ground so the urns can be refilled as water is absorbed.
“…Ollas are about the most water-efficient irrigation method available, and they’re incredibly simple to use.”
read more

{ thanks Cherilyn for the link }

No Comments

  1. Heather Hawkes says:

    Thank you for the article on the Ollas. That is something I would like to do for the back part of the garden. The how to make your own looks really easy, and something the kids would love to help with!

    Heather in Tucson

  2. Andy says:

    The garden looks great. What was the motivation behind all the changes? Solving problems? Making it look nicer?

  3. Anais says:

    Thanks for the positive remark.

    The reason? Removing an eyesore and urbanite “problem.”

    Concrete removal (30′ x 30′ piece) that happened in Fall/Winter.
    We now have actual dirt to work/play with now! Whoohoo. For years the concrete patio was covered in self-watering containers now that it’s gone we can actually erect hardscape/trellises and plant in the ground (which we hope will provide us even more come harvest time).

    Not to mention we can now work with putting in a greywater system to irrigate some of the grounds.

  4. Jeff S. says:

    The rock pot bed has filled in very nicely and beautifully frames the cob oven. How inviting! Have y’all ever thought of doing sustainable landscape design in your…ahem…free time? You are very talented. 🙂

    Our home was re-shingled 3 years ago. The crew that did the work erected heavy tarps, like a lean-to, to catch the old shingles and debris as it came off of the roof, thereby protecting any plantings under the tarps. Of course, the debris coming off of the tarps had to land somewhere. However, two people manned with wheelbarrows could keep up with the debris.

    By the way, do you use bamboo for most of your trellis construction?

  5. Anais says:

    Hi Jeff

    Thanks again for your positive remarks. 😉

    We have been approached many a time to do some sort of lanscape design or consultation. Right now, we are busy with our own project and it wouldn’t be feasible, at this time, to tackle landscaping other folks yards.

    The “landscape eye” is inherited – from my father, grandfather’s side. They had a nursery in Belgium and it was reported that they landscaped the King’s palace.

    Yep, it’s going to be a tricky and delicate job to roof the house. We should have done it years ago before many of the trees/plants were established.

    We do use bamboo, lodge poles and a variety of other “side of the road” objects for trellising. Also bicycle rims!

  6. Gia says:

    Thanks for the link to the article on Ollas. I’ve been wanting to try that, but knew I couldn’t find an unglazed jar here in Austin. I wondered to myself if I could somehow glue two terra cotta pots together . . . and lo and behold not only are people trying that but they’re doing it in my city! I guess I should read that newsletter more often!

    Thanks again!

  7. Nancy Kelly says:

    I love the olla idea too. Where did you get yours? They are so pretty and graceful looking.


  8. Cherilyn says:

    Hi, Dervaes family!
    Once again, I have to say you all are amazing! I love all of the in-depth info you give on topics, and the goat posting today was a perfect example.

    On roof construction–In cities, I’ve seen tubes (like kids’ tube slides) made of tough fabric that crews in the city use when they have to get torn-out materials out of upper floors and down to the street. They usually link a window and a dumpster. Wonder if that would work for you? The tube could come off the roof, over garden beds and to a dumpster, perhaps.

    Good luck finding a workable solution!


  9. Diane Kistner says:

    Hi. I first heard the word “ollas” a few weeks ago after I’d already tried doing “pot” irrigation. A search turned up your site, and I wanted to compliment you on your beautiful work. That shot of your house with all the rambunctious flowering is really what I’m working toward at my own place.

    I just wanted to share how I did my first “pot irrigation”: I am planting in tires with the rim cut off the top and filled with dirt. (I’m going to try to rig winter minigreenhouses somehow, and the tires will serve as solar heat collectors.) In the center of each tire I buried a 10″ regular garden pot with the hole plugged with a #10 wine cork I had left over from a home-brewing experiment. Same-size pot saucers make perfect covers. I can use the recessed saucer to hold slug bait if needed, or conceivably I could use it with seed-starting mix via a “bunch of seeds” sprouting technique…but I haven’t tried that one yet.

    When I know it’s going to rain, I can take off the saucer covers and let the pots catch some of the rain, so that’s nice.

    This is a good technique if you don’t have a huge garden. What I’m looking for now is low-cost pots with narrow necks that I can bury and cork to keep mosquitoes out until I want to fill ’em up.