Using Ollas in Arizona
Living in the Arizona desert provides nearly a perfect climate for most of the year for growing a variety of different fruits and vegetables. When summer does hit, and the temperature starts getting over 100 degrees, some strategies can help your garden plants beat the heat. One of these strategies I like to use is the use of Ollas, which help maintain moisture in the soil even on the hottest days. They allow the plant to take in much-needed moisture to avoid the plant from being dehydrated.
In the example above, which was taken today on June 5, 2020, was my summer harvest without extra shade protection. Each garden contains an Olla to provide additional water. The last few days have been between 105 and 107 degrees. The Ollas are providing the extra moisture needed to help the plants deal with the higher temperatures. As you can see, I am collecting eggplant, tomatoes, kale (which I thought would be dead by now), and peppers.
Ollas are very simple, and there are tons of YouTube videos detailing out how to make them out of two clay pots. I make mine with two non-glazed clay pots, one plastic bottle cap, and 100% Silicon, which does not contain any mold chemicals. I clean up the containers then glue the bottle cap to the inside bottom of the clay pot that will be the base. I then turn the second pot upside down and seal it to the first pot creating the Olla. I do fill and test for any leaks before burring in the garden. The three I made the containers came from IKEA and cost me less than $10 and about $3 for the silicon.
The plants will send roots to the buried Olla, which they will only pull the moisture needed. This helps prevent overwatering and root rot as it only slowly releases water over a more extended period. The other benefit if you have to leave your garden for a few days, Ollas' can help by providing moisture while you are gone.
Ollas can also be used on other plants, which may need additional moisture in our hot weather. This can be used for small trees, bushes, and even some succulents. Overall, it is an easy way to get water to plants without creating an automatic watering system or having to water multiple times in one day.