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Anyone Tried Ollas in your Garden for Irrigation?

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

That's pronounced O-yuhs, btw, and it's ceramic pots buried and then filled with water. We might try this out this year and see what kind of results we get.

Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

wow really what kind of Tabaco do they grow in Texas ponder. LOL just kidding but how does this work? Do the little pots have some sort of tubing or wicking material?.

Ok wide awake now pretty neat I see the video clip thanks

This message was edited Mar 10, 2014 7:41 AM

(Becky), Lipan, TX(Zone 7b)

Stephanie, I've also been wanting to do this. I still may, there's still time, a little anyway before planting time. I figure my 4x8 bed would take 3 lengthwise down the center. Really would like to put them in my three sisters bed but I'm afraid of overcrowding. I'll post an update if I decide to take the plunge :)

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Eweed, watch the video and you'll see how it's done.

I would think if it works in SA where they've been in drought conditions for several years, it would work up here in N TX where we're not as hot for as long. I might try it with half of my tomatoes and do a comparison/test.

(Becky), Lipan, TX(Zone 7b)

Good idea on the side by side comparison. If I don't do this myself, I will def be checking to see how yours do :)

Munster, IN(Zone 5b)

That's really a neat video; I think I will try this, as I have a lot of old pots. I have tried a similar trick of burying a pot and filling it with stones and then water, but I'm sure a lot of water just evaporated. This way looks much better. I especially like the idea that less weeds will germinate. Our current watering system is soaker hoses which are laid out, connected together and then to a timing system. That works better than sprinkler or hand watering, especially as we are away every other week. This way still sounds like it would have advantages. But you'all are right need to test it; so which areas to leave off the current set-up? Thanks for posting this and now while many of us have time to plan it out and prepare.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

I did something like this but with gallon plastic milk jugs. I don't remember exactly but I think I had something in the opening that allowed the water to trickle out.

(Becky), Lipan, TX(Zone 7b)

Darius, I had seen this before, using partially buried plastic bottles with small holes in the base.

And also like this idea with the bottle inverted, a user also has a tip of putting toothpicks in the lid when burying it, then removing the toothpicks by reaching into the bottle once it's in place. Supposed to prevent dirt from clohing the drip holes. I may try a plant or two with these.

Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

After trying about every trick known to man except ollas lol. Anyway in my opinion nothing beats T Tape drip line irrigation for veggies and flower beds.It drips8 times per foot or 12 times per foot. Then you can get drippers and place one where you want. They even have spray heads if thats what you want . Grear stuff and inexpensive.

This message was edited Mar 11, 2014 6:55 PM

This message was edited Mar 11, 2014 6:57 PM

(Becky), Lipan, TX(Zone 7b)

Eweed, I'm putting in a drip system too. After lots I research, it just seemed the best for my long rows. My button drippers are 1 gph so I hope I will have sufficient pressure. If the system works good with gravity, next year I will set up a drip system to water my raised beds. I know it sounds like a bad idea but really they are 2+ feet downhill from water source.

I still plan on experimenting with a few homemade ollas in my 4x8 raised bed this year. I'm pretty confident they'll work great.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> My button drippers are 1 gph so I hope I will have sufficient pressure. If the system works good with gravity,

If gravity doesn't give you enough pressure to get uniform drip rates from buttons or dripline, "drip tape" is often designed to work with very low pressures.

Even "pressure compensating" button drippers might expect 10 psi to work reliably, and 10 psi requires 23 feet of "head" or elevation.

I see a 6 mil drip tape product that recommends using 4-12 PSI.

That's only 9-28 feet of water height.

Springfield, OR(Zone 8a)

I have used the plastic bottle cones before, with success, and I have wished to try the terra cotta, but this far north haven't seen ollas. How are you hand making them Becky?

I don't understand about gravity and pressure and water height with regard to drip irrigation. I use soaker hose attached to PVC (without thinking about those things); are you talking about water from a reservoir not a tap? Am I missing something?

Sierra Vista, AZ(Zone 8b)

My gut tells me that ollas (oy-yas, like tortillas) are not a practical solution for a garden of any size. They still need to be filled periodically (by hand and hose) and they offer prime breeding grounds to mosquitos and such. For a small plot, or a container or two (especially if you are leaving for a few days), they are fine. Beyond that, they're just "cute". Drip lines are far better.

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

You take 2 clay pots, unglazed and place them opening to opening. Using Gorilla glue, glue a piece of tile or broken clay pot onto the drain hole on one of the pots. Gorilla glue the openings together and allow to dry overnight. Paint the top 1" or so that will be sticking out above ground to prevent evaporation. Top with a saucer to cover the opening (drain hole of the end sticking up above the ground) to prevent bugs and dirt and stuff from climbing in the hole. I can take some pics of our homemade ones if you'd like. They're not painted yet, though.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

StillPlaysWDirt said:
>> If the system works good with gravity,

From that I thoguht Becky meant that she had a gravity-feed system, like from a pond or rain barrel, but without city=water-pressure or a pump. Thus perhaps with only a few PSI of pressure.

If so, that's a tough situation to make uniform drip irrigation work.

I ws just tlaking about the way water pressure in pipes or the ocean increases as you get deeper or raise the supply of water higher. Thirty feet underwater, the pressure due to the wiehgt of the water is around 15 PSI.

For fresh water, the conversion factor is around 2.3 feet of depth for each PSI.

So a water tower 10 feet high would deliver 23 PSI.

But a rain barrel with the water level 4.6 feet higher than your garden soil surface would only deliver 2 PSI, which might not even be enough to make drip tape drip uniformly or fast enough.

Springfield, OR(Zone 8a)

Ahh. Got it. Thanks.

Sierra Vista, AZ(Zone 8b)

Stephanie--Are you finding this useful in a large garden? If yes, what kind of crops/plants are you watering in this way?

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

It's an experiment at this point. We have one group of tomatoes set up with the ollas. I have 5 pots, but I've only put one out. I recently sowed some cukes and squash. I might try it on those, too. Need to get them painted and in the ground.

(Becky), Lipan, TX(Zone 7b)

I've never made the ollas but I have seen them done the way Stephanie mentions, and they are supposedly very efficient water delivery, and inexpensive to boot, especially if you already have the clay pots.

Yes the aforementioned drip system was supposed to run from a gravity fed 330 gallon rainbarrel that sits 2 feet above the rows of tomatoes. I finally got the barrel set up and have 200 gallons in it from our recent rains. When I tested a standard garden hose to it yesterday, to say the water moved slow would be a massive understatement. I am already looking for a pump I can hook up to it, there has got to be an inexpensive option out there..

Sorry to hijack the thread Stephanie :)

Back on topic, I will try to find it later, but I recall seeing a pic online of an olla that had been removed at the end if the growing season and the plants roots had grown completely around it, leaching water from the slightly porous clay. It reminded me of a giant squid engulfing a ship with its tentacles before pulling it underwater.

Sierra Vista, AZ(Zone 8b)

Stephanie--Please let us know how your experiment turns out!

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

I will. I wish there was a way to cut away a cross section of my garden to see how far the roots have reached toward the olla.

Springfield, OR(Zone 8a)

That would be really fun, like those ant colonies between glass or a seedling in a soda container. Fascinating. I am watching your experiment too.

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