Texas summer gardening can be tough – really tough. It challenges me every summer to see if I can remember to water every other day or so and if I forget everything is sad and wilty and may never recover. Additionally, many plants enjoy a consistently moist soil in order to grow their best and, once again, that is hard to maintain in Texas.
I was so happy when I discovered ollas. Ollas (pronounced O-YAH) are traditional porous terra cotta irrigation pots that you bury in your garden and fill with water periodically. The porous pot slowly releases a continuous supply of water to the surrounding plants. Many plants, especially tomato plants thrive with a constant source of water and yields often increase as well. This was the case for my garden – I could finally grow tomato plants in Texas! (I also didn’t have to use as much water or spend as much time out in the heat watering – it’s a win-win)
Ollas can be used in vegetable gardens, raised bed gardens, in container gardens and large pots, and in the landscape as well. Depending on rainfall, soil composition and general humidity, I usually have to fill them with my lead-free garden hose about twice per week. The olla self-watering pots at Zinger Hardware hold a little over 2 gallons of water and come with a lid to prevent mosquito breeding, evaporation, and accumulation of debris in the buried watering pot..
Another huge benefit of olla irrigation pots is they are great for water conservation and drought prone areas. There is no water runoff and little evaporation occurs. Additionally the water goes directly to the roots, which is where you want it to be. Since the watering is occurring beneath the soil surface, weed growth is also reduced.
When planting with an olla, place your plants within 12″ of the outer edge of the olla (or 18″ from the center of the olla), this creates a 36″ diameter circle that can be reached with one olla. Your plant roots will grow toward the water source and you may notice a clustering of roots around the pot as the thirsty plants are watered.
This simple and easy to install irrigation system will save you time, money, and water while providing you with healthier happier plants. They can be found in-store and online at Zinger Hardware & General Merchant in Austin, TX.