Ollas for Watering Your Garden

2 Materials
2 Days

Or: The sub-surface irrigation technological device

Ollas. Oi-Yahs. I know, I said, O-lahs, at first, too. But, that’s wrong.

The Spanish settlers brought the first ones to the Southwest, but let’s face it, the native American Indians had been using pots for years. And, that’s all it is. A pot. A porous, terracotta pot. You chose what you want to do with it.

I found this statement on Etsy: It is an emitter, that is buried under, or near a plant's root system. It makes an osmotic field, of moisture underground.

It's a buried porous pot that waters your plants. Nothing more. And they can be rather expensive depending on where you buy it and the size.
Photo courtesy Permaculture Research
This is a picture of a real olla that's been professionally made. And following is a drawing showing you just how it works.
Photo courtesy Native Seeds
Look around your garden shed. All you need are two clay pots and some silicone.
Photo courtesy BarefootAffairs.com
I had these clay pots in my shed. They are perfect for a small olla.
Photo courtesy BarefootAffairs.com
If there are cracks in either of your pots, smear some silicone inside to seal the crack.

Photo courtesy BarefootAffairs.com
Inside one pot, plug the drainage hole. We used a good-sized glob of silicone and flat piece of broken tile.

Don't do this to both pots. You'll use the drainage hole in the other to fill it with water.
Photo courtesy BarefootAffairs.com
Squirt the silicone around the edge of one pot.

Invert the unsiliconed pot onto the siliconed pot...rim to rim.
Photo courtesy BarefootAffairs.com
Let dry overnight. This is going to be buried up to its neck. She doesn't have to be pretty.
Photo courtesy BarefootAffairs.com
Dig a hole in your garden near where you'll plant large enough to completely submerge your olla, leaving the open drainage hole end just above gound level. That oyster shell is to cover the opening after you've filled it with water.

For more details, including pros and cons, visit:

Suggested materials:

  • Silicone  (Home Depot)
  • 2 clay pots

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To see more: http://barefootaffairs.com/an-olla-for-the-goji/

Have a question about this project?

1 question
  • Don12282088
    on May 14, 2017

    Do you plant. Around it ?
    • Susan W Bosscawen
      on May 14, 2017

      Yes, look at the drawing at the top. This waters your planting by leaching the water through the porous walls of the olla into the dirt around the roots.

      There are a couple of ways you can do this. If you have a large bed, you could dig holes throughout the bed, before planting anything, and bury your ollas in place first. If you want this to water a specific plant, dig a hole large enough for your olla and plant's root ball. Set the olla in place. Set the plant in place beside it. Then, replace the dirt to cover (leaving the opening of the olla visible to fill with water).

      Does this help?

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