Oh Yeah, An Olla Pot Can Help You Keep Your Garden Green
With the continuing drought in much of the country and dwindling water resources anything that can water your plants efficiently and save water is a treasure. The Olla Pot (pronounced o-ya) is a bit of ancient technology that is returning to popularity. The unglazed terra cotta pot provides a continuous and efficient water supply to your plants.
For centuries communities around the world where water was in short supply would bury Olla pots beside their plants and fill them with water. The pot was then capped to reduce evaporation. Then the pot would deliver a steady supply of water to the nearby plants. Evidence of the use of these pots in China dates back 4,000 years.
The pots can save 50-70% of water consumption and create a cottage industry in pottery for people in Third World countries. Because the pot also works controlling moisture within the soil it prevents over-watering. It also prevents weeds from taking root since it reduces surface moisture. Soil compaction is also reduced.
All you do is bury the pot in the ground up to its neck next to the plants you want it to water. Then you fill the pot with water and place the cap. Some pots do not have caps but a rock or other object can be used to block the narrow necks instead. Then all you need to do is replenish the water periodically and let the Olla work its magic.
There is some serious science behind the how the pot works. The Olla only releases the water when the right pressure (suction) is placed upon it by the need of the plants. Whenever this negative pressure occurs the plants receive the water they are seeking. This regulates the water consumption so that the plants are never over watered.
You can further reduce water consumption by using graywater (like old dishwater) to fill the pots. Use of the pots also means that you won't need to use as much fertilizer on your plants.
The Olla Irrigation Pot can be used in any type of garden, from patio pots to orchards. If left in the ground over the winter the pots can break due to the freezing and thawing of the ground around it. The best estimate for the life of an Olla is five years.