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Ollas: Ancient Low Tech and Low Cost Sub-Surface Irrigation System

Survival Sherpa

by Todd Walker

I woke up with an Olla (pronounced “oy-yah”) in my inbox from John Robb of Resilient Communities.

What’s an Olla?


Photo credit: Apartment Therapy

It’s a simple unglazed clay pot that is buried in the ground near plants with the neck of the pot above ground. They typically have a wide, bulb-like base with a narrow neck. The porous walls of the olla allow water to wick to the plants root zone.

I’ve looked at the 2 liter plastic soda bottles buried next to plants for irrigation. The problem with those are that there’s no way to regulate the flow of water to plants.

Ollas are different. They seep water when the plants and surrounding dirt need it. They acts as a moisture equalizer. The unglazed clay pots dispense water only when needed. Basic physics here.

After last year’s drought, we ramped up our rainwater collection system (just added…

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One response

  1. Pingback: Water Conserving Ideas ~ How to Build and Install a Drip Irrigation System | Auntie Dogma's Garden Spot

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