Save water and money by making a DIY Olla. What is an olla? Ollas are clay pots for watering plants and they can preserve water and save your garden from a drought. And with about 10 minutes work you can make a homemade olla watering pot for all your garden plants.
We live in a drier climate with frequent droughts. So we are always looking for ways to save time and money in caring for our vegetable garden. And we have just recently discovered ollas.
What is an olla?
Ollas (pronounced “0-yahs”) are unglazed clay or earthen pots that can provide your plants with water for several days. When planted in your garden, ollas gradually releases water into the dry soil, keeping your plants watered. But if the soil is wet from rain or has not dried out yet, water is not pulled through the wall of the olla thus preventing overwatering.
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Using clay pots for watering plants is so easy and has improved our garden’s health. Texas has just come out of a couple years of drought and we believe using these homemade ollas has really made a difference. Ollas can be expensive to buy and they are just beautiful but we have discovered that our little DIY ollas work just as well.
What you need for a DIY homemade olla:
- Unglazed Terra Cotta Pot (we used a 6 inch wide clay pot)
- Terra Cotta Pot Saucer (for lid)
- Blue Tack Putty (the entire package will make 6 homemade ollas)
- Parchment paper or wax paper to cover your working surface
Instructions for a DIY Olla:
Remove all stickers and/or price tags from your clay pot and cover your work surface with a sheet of parchment paper. Tear off a small piece of the blue tack (I used a third of one stick) and roll it into a ball. Flatten the ball to form a flat round disc of the Blue Tack putty.
Place the putty over the hole on the inside of the pot and press into place making sure it sticks and completely covers the hole. Smooth the edges with your finger to form a tight seal.
Flip your clay pot upside down and tear off another piece of the putty. Form a ball from the putty and press into a flat disc. Place it over the hole in the pot and press all around to seal the hole. Allow your DIY ollas to sit for about 24 hours before using them in your garden.
How to use an Olla Watering Pot in your Garden:
Dig a hole in your garden 6 to 12 inches from the plant(s) you wish to keep watered. Place your purchased or your homemade olla in the hole leaving the neck or rim about 1 inch above the soil. (It’s a good idea to place the saucer over the pot when doing this to keep soil out). Carefully fill in the hole around the olla with soil and fill with water.
Place the saucer over the top of the olla watering pot to prevent evaporation. Also a lid over the homemade olla prevents bees and other beneficial inspects from drowning. Then check your Olla often and replace the water as needed.
How does an Olla work:
A purchased or homemade olla is buried in the ground with just the lip showing and filled with water to supply water to surrounding plants. The roots of your plants eventually grow toward and around it, allowing for even and consistent watering. (As shown in the photo above)
This process of watering works by soil moisture tension: when the soil is dry, the water is pulled out, when the soil is moist, water stays in the Olla
The concept of watering with ollas is simpler than one would believe. Ollas will keep your plants watered through a process called soil moisture tension. When the soil around the olla is dry, the water is pulled out through the clay pot’s “pores” to water your plants. If the soil is moist, the water stays in the pot.
Conserving water in the garden:
Not just in arid areas do we need to be thinking about ways to conserve water in our gardens. We need all the tips and tricks to create more drought resistant gardens that can survive and thrive with less water. Also we need to make the most of the water we use in our gardens. These are just some of the ways to have a more water efficient or drought resistant garden.
- Train your plants to develop deep roots. The deeper your plant’s roots are the easier they can survive with less water during a drought. The trick to this is to use the deep watering method. To do this you need to water your plants less often but with more water so that the roots of your plants will be trained to reach deep into the ground where water is more readily available because it is not evaporating off the surface.
- To give your plants an advantage be sure to give them plenty of mulch. This will stop weeds from popping up in your garden taking valuable water that your plants need to survive. A great option for this is to place a layer of cardboard over the ground around your plants before putting down your choice of mulch. A thick mulch will help stop the water from evaporating out of your garden soil. This will give your plants more time to soak up the water they need.
- Place watering devices into the ground around thirsty plants like tomatoes. This can be a 5-gallon bucket or even a large soda bottle with holes in the sides or better yet, you can make our DIY Olla. These olla watering pots allows you to give your thirsty plants as much water as they need even when it hasn’t rained. All these clay pots for watering plants has a cap or cover to prevent evaporation.
- Use a smart watering schedule to help your plants benefit from the water you give them. Water the base of your plants, not the leaves. Water your plants in the evening to reduce evaporation before the water has time to seep into the ground. This will make your watering more efficient so you can use less water in your garden during a heavy drought.
Can you buy an olla watering pot?
Other Ways to Care for your Gardens:
- How to attract Bees to your Garden
- Guide to composting for your Garden
- Free Gaarden Planner Printable and Gardening Tips
- 10 of the Most Essential Tools used in the Garden
Click HERE to save these directions for a DIY Olla to Pinterest
- parchment paper or wax paper to cover your working surface
- Unglazed Terra Cotta Pot we used a 6 inch wide pot
- Terra Cotta Pot Saucer for lid
- Blue Tack Putty
- Cover your work service with a sheet of parchment paper
- Remove all stickers and/or price tags from your clay pot
- Tear off a small piece of the blue tack (I used a third of one stick) and roll into a ball. Flatten the ball to form a flat round disc of the Blue Tack putty.
- Place the putty over the hole on the inside of the pot and press into place making sure it sticks and completely covers the hole. Smooth the edges with your finger to seal completely.
- Flip your clay pot upside down and tear off another piece of the putty. Form a ball from the putty and press into a flat disc. Place of the hole of the pot and press all around to seal the hole.
- Allow your DIY ollas to sit for about 24 hours before using them in your garden.