Watering plants

Making watering less of a chore by using Ollas

As the summer was getting underway I was looking at how I could improve my laziness (sorry efficiency) by using a drip feed system or something along those lines for my vegetables etc. and I came across a reference to something called an “Olla” – huh?

A bit more Internet digging later and if you didn’t already know an Olla is an earthenware pot you sink into the ground near your plants and then fill with water.  The water is drawn out of the pot by the surrounding soil and as the plant grows its roots are drawn to the pot.  This gives your plant access to a ready water supply but without you needing to water it every 5 minutes.  This is my kind of gardening and as an added bonus by not watering from the surface, potential weeds don’t get any water – love it!

The weather looked like it was going to be warm for quite a while and so I thought I would do a little experiment and as I had been given two young marrow plants (in fact I had four but two when to MrsB’s plot), these would be good candidates.

Before we could get to the planting bit I needed to rustle up an Olla and the simplest and easiest option is a cheap earthenware plant pot with the base sealed and a cover on top (the pot has to be porous hence an unglazed pot) .  A suitable (cheap) pot was acquired from the local garden centre for a few pounds and after getting busy with some scissors, an old margarine lid and some silicon sealant we had an Olla.  For its lid, I just went for a cheap round plastic saucer – I wanted it to look OK ok so no Fray Bentos aluminum foil trays on this plot thank you.  So we had our Olla sorted – let the experiment begin!

I planted the two marrow plants within a metre or so of each other so they have the same “quality” soil but next to one (aka Harry) I sunk the Olla and then filled it with water and left it for the week.  The other (aka Bill) got a good watering and this was repeated day in day out for… well weeks – Harry on the other hand only needed filling roughly every 7 days.

Olla from a terracotta plant pot
Marrow aka Harry with the Olla
Marrow aka Bill without an Olla

I will be posting the results of this experiment in a few weeks time when we see what we got from the plants but in the mean time if you want to find out a bit more about Ollas, try the following: