I’m excited to share this guest post by my good friend, Kaitlin Lloyd. I met Kaitlin a year and half ago during a serve day with our church. I don’t think it was a coincidence that we were working on a community garden that day. We quickly became friends and last year Kaitlin came to a class I taught with the Sustainable Food Center when she was starting her own garden. Her garden has really taken off and I hope to feature it on the blog soon. But in the meantime, check out this awesome how to from Kaitlin on making your own ollas.
When I started planning my spring garden, I knew that some of my biggest struggles were going to be the fact that it gets HOT, and I mean HOT, here in Austin, Texas, and that means that plants can really struggle. I knew that another struggle would be the fact that I am very busy, and don’t always get over to my garden plots in a community garden to water on a regular basis.
During a “Plan your Spring Garden” course at the Sustainable Food Center, I learned about ollas. Ollas are a type of ceramic pot, often unglazed, that typically has a very narrow neck and opening. These can be buried in the ground, next to plants, and filled with water. These are really useful in watering your garden because water seeps slowly through the ceramic walls whenever the ground seems dry which allows you to 1) water slowly, over time, instead of all at once and 2) get water straight to the roots, instead of wasting a lot of water just soaking the surface of the ground.
When looking in the local area, I found a vendor Dripping Springs Ollas that made the pots, but all the ones I found in local shops were too large in diameter for my smaller garden plots. I decided to make my own! (note: check out the Dripping Springs Ollas site for a great video about how ollas work).
Supplies for 1 olla:
Step 1: Gather materials. I put newspaper down under everything I worked on to keep things clean. I’m going to designate these Pot A and Pot B.
Step 2: Apply Gorilla Glue to one of the small pieces of tile, to place over the hole at the bottom of Pot A.
Step 3: Put a little bit of water on the area on Pot A where the tile will go, as the Gorilla Glue instructions suggest.
Step 4: Press down the tile, making sure it covers the hole at the bottom of Pot A, so that no water will leak.
Step 5: Put a weight (of some sort) on top of the tile (Gorilla Glue instructs to apply pressure for a certain amount of time while the glue dries).
Step 6: This is how it should look after the Gorilla Glue has expanded and dried. IMPORTANT: at this point, fill Pot A with a few inches of water, and see if any water leaks through the hole. If so, apply more Gorilla Glue.
Step 7: Wet both rims of both Pot A and Pot B, and apply a thin layer of Gorilla Glue to both pot rims.
Step 8: Pot A will go on bottom. Set Pot B on top, and adjust so that the rims will line up with no gaps. Set a weight on top of both pots, so the Gorilla Glue will dry correctly.
Step 9: Once the glue has dried, fill the olla with water up past where the two rims are joined, to make sure there are no leaks. If there are, fill in with more Gorilla Glue. Note: Only the hole on Pot A is plugged with a piece of tile; the hole on the top of Pot B should remain open.
Step 10: Select where you would like the olla to go, so that it will water plants around it in a diameter. Loosen the soil, as you’ll need to dig a hole big enough to put the olla in.
Step 11: Dig hole deep enough so the olla will go in, with only 2 inches or so showing above the soil line. I used shovels and tillers. Once deep enough, try to level out the bottom of the hole, so the olla will sit flat.
Step 12: Fill in the hole with the extra soil. Fill the olla with water, and cover the hole with a ceramic tray.
Step 13: Enjoy the bounty of the garden!
I felt like the ollas worked well, and kept my plants watered. Sometimes I would go to fill my ollas and they were totally empty, meaning my plants had been really thirsty. Sometimes I went to fill the ollas, and found the just needed to be topped off, meaning my plants had taken just the amount that they needed.
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