Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Clay Pot Watering: Round Two

 As you may remember from last month, I am working on the concept of Clay Pot Watering (using Clay Pots as a storage reservoir for water).  

These were the two I used last month.  I have tried to push away the mulch to show much more damp it was than soil farther away (but foiled by a bad camera angle):

Both plants are doing well.  Other than a good dose of rain - 4.5" about a week ago - they have only been watered by the ollas):

Now that I knew what I was doing, it became much more of an assembly line operation (complete with adult beverage):

    Installation is the same as before:

And the work goes rather quickly.  One thing I will note is that more pots, there is more variety in how the plug fits into the wholes.  Quality control appears to be not as much as I could have desired, but then again, at $0.98 a pot, I do not have much to complain about:

One supports my thriving pepper and tomato bushes:

A third one between the mint and rosemary for some yet undetermined plant:

Laying out down the Center. I obviously do not have enough pots (the offset pattern seems to be the best way to get coverage):

Some at the other end of the garden too:

The basil plant is on the end, the most dry part.  This will be my field test:

From having used them for a bit now (and refilled them at least once), I can tell the following:

1)  A filled pot lasts about two days.

2)  Why did I not get bigger pots?  The pots were available, but not the base - and paying $4.00 per a "bulb" base seemed like a waste of money.

3)  Coverage seems to be about 2-3 inches from the pot.

4) In some cases upon refilling them,  I found where the stoppers were not a precise fit.  I inverted some, which seems to have taken care of the problem.  For others, I will have to seal them.

5)  It is making a difference.  I did a planting of potatoes today and the soil around the ollas was noticeable more moist than farther away.

6)  Cost remains at about $3.25 per olla. They are reusable - but, if they break, I will hardly lose too much sleep over it (I am betting I can reuse the stoppers, however).

I have to confess that I am more excited than usual about my gardening this year!


  1. Neat. I will be curious to see how it goes! All caught up! As per usual, thought provoking! Sad to hear about your family health troubles and hopefully your Dad continues to have an easy time. My grandmother went through the same thing and living with us made the changes apparent every day. She never did quite forget that she did not like dogs though! So jelous of your garden..tomatoes in the ground..we still have a month until transplanting! Take case!

    1. I am really curious as well EGB. If this works, I may try to migrate to larger pots next year with the caveat that I will have all year to gather them! And yes, grateful for the ability to plant - although I really cannot plant before now as we always seem to get that last little cold snap that would crush anything just starting.

      Thanks for the good wishes as well. I can say that we at least do not have it as bad as some others I have known or heard of - our parents are still pleasant and kind.

  2. I grew up with mint around the house foundation. That was a bit farther north, almost 500 miles. Down here close to the sun, it dies off quick. That seems to be a neat trick with the clay pots. I'm gonna try that on the north side of the house this year. If I can get it to work, mint will return!

    1. STxAR, I love mint - but like you said, without water it quickly dies. I am hopefully that this will allow the mint to make it this year - if it does, I am doubling down on this for next year!

  3. I'm glad I live in a climate that gets more regular rains (most years anyway) so I don't have to futz with things like that. But I suppose the same could be said for various things that I am willing to futz with that others think would be a waste of time.

    1. Ed, given the relative ease of travel and relocation (at least here in Baja Canada), I truly think what we are willing to futz with is largely a matter of our choices - for example, observing your Winters is enough to make me thankful that the one-of Snowmaggedon 2021 is something we only deal with once in a while, not annually.

  4. Do you use the bases to stop the sun from evaporating the water?
    The stoppers are some sort of wick?
    I need to find time to read more and ask fewer questions, sorry.

    God bless you all, TB.

    1. Linda, the bases are to keep both the water from evaporating various items from drifting in. The stoppers are actually to keep water from leaking out of the bottom hole of the pot. The concept is that the pot, which is clay, will slowly disperse the water to the surrounding soil.

      No worries! We are all learning together!

    2. "to keep both the water from evaporating and various items from drifting in". Darn my rapid brain and less rapid fingers!

  5. I LOVE this! Thrills my analytical bent to no end. Plus, you've observed important information for getting the best use out of the ollas.

    Next time I'm out, I'm going to get a bunch of those size pots and some tubing to try Bainbridge's porous capsule set-up. It's on pages 40-41 of Gardening with Less Water and looks like it would be useful in a garden bed (if I can figure out where to put the 5-gallon bucket).

    1. Your comment made my day! Thank you!

      Yes, when I bought next set I checked the individual holes for sizing much more carefully. We will know more after the first fill, but it seems to work better.

      I did see the porous capsule idea and it was intriguing (and looked pretty easy to put together). For better or worse, the garden is on a slight decline so gravity could work well in this situation (If, as you say, I could find a placement for the five gallon bucket. Also, I would need to dig everything down more deeply).


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