Olla Report 2011

2011 was a poor garden year for me.  A new job (busy!) and the weather sucked (cold, wet).

My tender young starts did not thrive. Twice the average rain in May, with very cool days, meant gardens throughout the Pacific Northwest were delayed an entire month.

Tomato plants barely knee high by mid-July after the cold wet 2011 spring

In this, my second year of watering with ollas (2011), I planted the ollas among nightshades; tomatoes, peppers, eggplants.

When summer finally began, it rained once in July, once in August, twice in September.  It is common for July to be rainless, but such little rain over the entire summer was ‘special’.  Despite the excessive drought, the ollas clearly worked to provide water to the roots during the growing period (Jul-Sep).

Although the plants never got large, they did produce fruit into November.  I cannot make any scientific statements about the olla contribution during 2011, except to say that nightshades require a decent amount of water and overhead watering easily spreads soil diseases to vulnerable leaves.  Despite no hand watering in 2011, my nightshades produced well and were less diseased than usual by summer’s end.

Tomato plants in September were small, but produced well.

Peppers were prolific into November!

I am making more ollas this winter.  I hope that in 2012 I will be able to use ollas for all my deep-rooted, water-loving plants.  And I hope for a warmer spring (she says as it snows and snows outside).  Keep ‘ya posted.


This entry was posted in olla irrigation, spring, tomatoes, vegetable garden, vegetable starts. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Olla Report 2011

  1. Any chance I can buy an olla or two off of you? perhaps you can bring them with you when you come visit 🙂

  2. jkmcintyre says:

    Maybe. But probably not! I think a better bet is teaching you to make one! You will need a banding wheel (or a lazy susan), some clay, and a place to fire the olla. Let’s talk about a skype lesson!

  3. Jennifer H says:

    Hi. I love your ollas! I found a great system that seems to be the best of everything. You use a little gravity, a rain barrel, and some irrigation tubing to connect the ollas….Then all you do is fill up the rain barrel and let the gravity take the water to the ollas. No need to fill each olla individually and you use less water since the ollas are completely submerged. Anyway, here is a link to the kind of system I am talking about. If you can make these they would be great! I am dying to find a place to buy these things in the US. Way too expensive to pay for the shipping from Australia: http://www.productivegardens.com.au/products/wetpot-watering-system

    • jkmcintyre says:

      Cool! I have been thinking of making some smaller ollas specifically for use in planters, but I had not thought as far as connecting them to an irrigation system! A long-term goal…
      Thanks for your comment!

  4. Arno says:

    Hi, love the Olla’s. We joined an art exhibition called “Ja-Natuurlijk” How art can save the world, in the Netherlands. Watching and learning from nature by artist might help solve problems. We made a small Olla-garden, (as you know the Netherlands are very dry :-). That’s why we also started a parrallel Olla start-up in Uganda, looking for locations in e.g. India, Spain and China.The goal is to get a broader attention for the subsoil life, and the catalystic roll the Olla can play in this. It would be great to recieve images from more Olla-designs and garden-samples. Using a QR-code visitors of the exhibition can see the other projects in dryer regions.

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