Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Ollas, and Underground Irrigation Techniques.

   I've been plotting and planning my square footage in the family community garden.  I have been a fan of square foot gardening for decades.  I am sketching out a plan making lists of what will grow this time of year and how much I want to plant.  It is going fairly well until I think about watering.  

     I never want to be a drain on someone else's energy or time and I promised my son he won't be pulling my weeds or watering my plot.  I went online and found a solution to the problem of watering when I am not available to hold a hose or turn on the faucet.   It is called an OLLA.  It is a primitive watering device that has been in use since the dawn of civilization. 03-09-2009ollathumbs.jpg 

     The olla is an unglazed clay pot that uses physics to water the soil beneath the surface.  It keeps the roots watered without wasting water or splashing it around the surface to dry out before the water can seep below to do it's work.  

     I have seen a clever use for clay pots in the garden as well.  Using a silicone caulk, the bottom pot  drain hole is glued and a piece of tile placed over the hole to stop the water.  Then the top pot is inverted and caulked all around to seal..bury the pot in the ground and fill the newly made olla from the top.  Place a stone over the top hole to keep water from evaporating and walk away.  Use three pots for deep root watering. 

     Next time you see your neighbors totally disgusted in their gardens throwing out clay pots, grab them up.  This is the time of year people pitch what died in the pot, pot and all!  Make lots of clay ollas with little expense beyond the silicone caulk.  

Here is a picture from the Modern Hippie Homestead.  This setup allows watering from a central pipe end.  It's worth a click over to look at all the pictures.  They keep their ollas full with an inverted water bottle.  

     There is a cheaper way to pull this off.  It takes a little freezer space, though.  Take a milk jug.  Fill it within a few inches of the top, and freeze.  Take it out and take out your frustrations with a small brad and a hammer.  Pick many holes all around.  Bury the jug in the garden and let it thaw on it's own! 
     If you have the where with all to purchase your irrigation then get yourself to Harbor Freight!  They have watering spikes they sell in four packs.  You can stick them in the ground.  (dig down if you have to...) Then invert as full two liter bottle into the spike.  Keep an eye on it to see how long it takes to empty and watch your plants.  It can be too much too soon with young plants.  But, it is an easy method of watering when you are not home.  

     I like to use the green soft drink bottles so they blend with the plants.

     An after thought:  As, far as weeding when I am not there....I will either use a weed cloth or mulch.  So, once the garden is established, I won't have to be on the soil every five minutes!  

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