“Gardening is great fun, and really stretches the dollar, but having to water the garden takes too much time and runs up my water bill.” Except for the words “dollar” and “bill,” similar words were likely spoken thousands of years ago by gardeners just like us. So they came up with a solution; clay pot irrigation.
For years, geologists have been digging up unglazed clay pots from long forgotten ancient garden sites, from China to South America. Why? Because clay pots, when used as irrigation thousands of years ago, saved up to 70% of the water use, were inexpensive, and could go days without filling. Nothing has changed: clay pot irrigation still does all that, and is organic to boot!
There is a trend growing in our society to take back our health, our food and our lovely Mother earth. In general, people are realizing that healthy food is the building block of, well, health. This movement is showing up in many places, with gardening being the closest to home and the easiest to address. In front yards, in back yards, in raised beds, on decks, on porches, in old tires and even in used tennis shoes, gardens are blossoming. And more and more people are using clay pot irrigation to water their flourishing gardens because this movement to health includes a commitment to conserve water, and a desire to save time. The process is simple. Bury a clay pot, often called an olla, in the ground, or in a container, upto its neck, and place plants within an 18” radius of its center. Fill the olla with water, and soil-moisture tension will occur. The plant and dry soil literally draw the water out of the olla. The chemistry of soil-moisture tension prevents over and under watering of the plants. This comes in very handy when planning trips, during a busy work week, or when rain is sparse, since larger ollas (around 2 gallons) can go 3-5 days without filling. Even fertilizing is easier with an olla. Add a liquid fertilizer directly to the olla, using 1/3 less fertilizer. There is no runoff, no filter, no need for water pressure, it is low tech, has no plastic parts, is easy to use and supplies water directly to the root zone, which aids in building a healthier, larger root base.
Amazing! Those ancient folks solved some serious irrigation problems with a simple, smart solution, ollas. And so can we! Grab some seeds, some good soil and an olla. Build a garden in the ground, a container or in a raised bed. You’ll be pleased to see how ollas make your plants happy! Gardening is great fun, especially as you enjoy the “modern” way of saving water and time with an olla.