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Ollas - have you tried them in your garden? — The Grow Network Community
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Ollas - have you tried them in your garden?

monica197monica197 Posts: 535 ✭✭✭

I am looking at restructuring the watering in my garden and Ollas were recommended to me. Have you ever used these? How did they work?


  • Denise GrantDenise Grant Posts: 498 ✭✭✭

    They work great in warmer climates and areas that dry out easier.

    I will use them in my milder climate near water hungry plants.

    You can make you own variety using terra cotta planters - its cheaper

  • monica197monica197 Posts: 535 ✭✭✭

    I saw that. Does that work

    the same?

  • MaryRoweMaryRowe Posts: 261 ✭✭✭

    Years ago , when I first put in my raised beds, one of my early gardening disasters came from trying to do this on the super cheap: plastic milk jugs with holes punched in the bottom and lower sides. The jugs drained too quickly, and before long became brittle, shattering into sharp pieces when I tried to pull them out.

    After cleaning up that mess, I tried again with two terra cotta pots in one of my raised beds to see how that would work. This bed is in full sun most of the day, and gets very hot in summer. I think they did help keep the bed a little cooler and moister. I still had to water it, but not as often, and tomatoes were especially happy there. After a few years the pots broke down, and I never got around to replacing them, but I am thinking about giving it another try.

  • Jack_Went_SplatJack_Went_Splat Posts: 59 ✭✭✭

    @MaryRowe Do you cap the terracotta pots with an inverted saucer? You know the part we generally put under the pot. If not, how do you cap the pot?

  • monica197monica197 Posts: 535 ✭✭✭

    @MaryRowe I wonder if the actual Olla pots would respond differently - ie not break down in the soil - the pot idea seems a lot more accessible - ie not needing to order them special online and stuff

  • MaryRoweMaryRowe Posts: 261 ✭✭✭

    @Jack_Went_Splat I did use saucers--I tried two different ideas from different books (that was long before I had a computer or knew about YouTube--it probably didn't even exist yet!...feeling ancient....) Anyway, one said to put the pot upright in the ground, with a layer of gravel, broken pots, or something else that would stop up the drainage hole in the bottom, and then put the saucer on top. The other version was to cement saucer to the top of the pot and put it upside-down in the ground, and use the drainage hole to fill it. I did one of each at opposite ends of the raised bed.

    As I recall it, the upside-down one drained more slowly, and kept a larger area around it moire evenly moist, which would make sense--that is nearer the shape of an olla. Also, the opossums, raccoons and deer who broke in to raid the garden soon found they could get a drink as well as a free meal by flipping the saucer off the rightside-up one, and it also took away more planting space.

    @monica197 The olla pots I have seen are thicker than the clay flower pots, so probably would last longer. Also, I think what did my flower pots in was leaving them in the ground all winter, with the repeated freezing and thawing and consequent ground heaving that goes on here. I did not have that bed covered, and only used it between last and first frosts. Certainly flower pots are cheaper and easier to find though, and the ollas are bound to break down eventually as well.

  • AcequiamadreAcequiamadre Posts: 247 ✭✭✭

    Here in New Mexico, I am always looking for water saving methods. I tried a modified olla, where a small terra cotta top is placed in the ground and then a wine bottle--something like this: https://www.amazon.com/Terracotta-Plant-Watering-Stakes-Irrigation/dp/B01I21RDAS/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=olla+gardening&qid=1603076001&sr=8-2. They function on the same ideal--a slow release of water through terracotta.

    I placed them near transplants, and they worked to keep them watered and alive during warm weather, but were fragile--and a little pricey. However, they don't take up as much space and are cheaper that the larger ollas.

    Interested in how your explorations go--I wondered if they would be worth placing next to young trees.

  • monica197monica197 Posts: 535 ✭✭✭

    They are a lot less expensive that is for sure

    I also like this idea for those of us who have very small planting spaces

    I am a little confused about the wine bottle - is that above ground and full of water balancing on this stake which is submerged? @Acequiamadre

    How long did you use these before they broke apart on you?

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