During the vacation season, a difficult question arises for many amateur gardeners: what happens during their absence to the plants in the garden or raised bed that need frequent watering? A dear neighbor is not always available to water the plants on a daily basis.
And an irrigation system with a drip hose is quite complex and expensive! Much less cost and effort comes from homemade ollas – watering pots that can keep your plants moist for up to a week. Garden Watering with Ollas The word olla comes from Spanish (“oya” pronounced) and means pot.
These watering pots have long been used not only in Spanish-speaking South America, but are now well known here as well.
Traditional ollas are bulbous pots or bottles made of unsealed clay that are buried in the ground. They are filled with water through the neck of the bottle, which protrudes from the soil, and release it very slowly through the water-permeable material. Watering bottles are available at garden supply stores or online.
However, they can quickly become expensive to purchase, especially since several are usually necessary. Instead, however, you can make your own garden watering system much more inexpensively from two or more plant pots.
This is how you build an olla For an irrigation pot with a capacity of about two liters you need: 2 unglazed clay pots with a hole in the bottom, one with a diameter of 15, one with a diameter of 16 cm (the smaller pot should fit upside down into the larger one, so that the rim disappears only slightly into the larger pot). a flat stone or a larger piece of clay to seal the bottom hole wax (beeswax or a vegetable beeswax alternative) or cement (available at hardware stores or online) as glue
You can also build your ollas in other sizes and use different clay pots, even used ones. The important thing is that they are unglazed and slightly different in size so that they can be placed inside each other.
Depending on whether you want to use the pots permanently or as ollas on a trial basis first, you can use wax or cement as glue. Pots glued together with wax can be taken apart again with little effort and reused in their original function as plant pots, while with cement the bond is permanent.
This is how to build the irrigation system: 1. melt wax in a water bath or mix cement according to instructions. 2. glue stone or clay shard to the bottom of the larger pot with wax or cement so that the hole is sealed.
put the small pot upside down into the large one and seal the crack between the edges of the pot with wax or cement as well.
Allow to dry or cool.
How to use the Olla Now you can use the irrigation system. Dig a hole next to the plant to be watered, in which the Olla almost completely disappears – about three to four centimeters should later protrude from the ground so that the hole is not buried.
Fill with soil and press well so that the roots can grow to the water source.
fill with water through the top hole
At the beginning it is recommended to observe how long a filling lasts. If the level is not visible through the small hole, you can shine a flashlight into it. If the olla empties too quickly, you can add more to the bed or build a larger watering pot and dig it in instead.
The water requirement per olla can only be determined approximately, as it also depends on the outside temperature. However, after about a week it will probably be necessary to top up with water. Some plants that hardly need watering, such as aloe vera, can manage even longer.
Tip: For information on proper watering to save water, time and money, see a separate post. Even easier: digging in a clay pot for watering It is even easier to dig in a clay pot, the hole of which is sealed with a champagne or wine cork.
However, for the same amount of water, this watering pot is slightly wider and thus takes up more space than an olla. A matching coaster of glazed clay placed on the pot counteracts evaporation. Filled with a little water, it also serves as a mini-pond for bees and birds. A rock or small stick helps insects crawl back out.
The buried clay pot is particularly easy to refill and the fill level can be easily checked. Tip: In our plastic-free online store you can find plant plugs for self-watering to supply your balcony and houseplants with water during longer absences. You can find more ideas for natural gardening in our books: