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  • Writer's pictureAdam Raymond

Desert Watering using Ollas

Hypothetical situation, you have plants that need water but do not want to invest, or you do not have a system for automatic watering. Hand watering is always an option but can be inconsistent and time-consuming.

One available option is ollas, which will supply a few days of water and can be purchased online or created with unglazed clay pots. Unfortunately, online ollas can be expensive, so I take the lesser of the two by creating homemade ollas out of two clay pots bought at the local hardware store. These can be easily made by anyone and take about 10 minutes.

The supplies are straightforward buy two 8-inch unglazed clay pots. It would be best to have nontoxic silicon that can be clear or white for the glue. The type of silicon used for fish tanks works well for this project, and one plastic bottle cap from a soda or water-plastic container.

When assembling, the first step is to glue the plastic cap at the bottom of one of the clay pots. After that, put a good thick layer of silicone on top of one of the pots. Then place the other clay pot on top of the one with silicon on the rim. Next, take a piece of plastic and spread the silicon flat around the edges of the pot. I tend to do that and then put one more round of silicon on the outside edge, then flatten it out. Let the silicon dry out for a few hours, then do a water test by filling your created olla with water. You should not see any water seeping between the post but should see the post slowly start getting damp on the outside.

Once you are confident that the olla is not leaking and working correctly, plant it in a pot in the garden or where you need plants that need water. You dig a whole and place the olla in the ground, only leave about 1 inch above the soil line, and use a pot watering dish to cover the whole to help prevent evaporation. Plants within about 6 inches will get plenty of water using this method. Plant four plants around each olla to maximize this process, and use mulch or straw around the pants. This will reduce the amount you need to water every two to three days.

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