Ancient form of easy drip irrigation

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Terracotta pots for easy drip irrigation systems
Photo by Andrea Kirkby


I try to have systems be as simple as they can be to maintain. That being said, irrigation is not one of my favorite things to deal with in a garden. Now let’s talk about a time tested and easy drip irrigation system.

Have you ever messed with those black soaker hoses? You know the type, brittle after a year under the sun and somewhat efficient at best. How about you dump those chunks of broken black mess and get on with something more durable?

Ever heard of ollas? The term is a Spanish word for pots. However in this context I am talking about unglazed fat bottomed terracotta pots with narrow necks. If you have ever  watered a plant in a terracotta pot, you might have noticed how the water seeps through the porous clay and ends up on the outer side of the wall. Following this concept you can bury one of these pots, up to the neck, next to your plants, fill it up with water and put a lid on it to avoid evaporation. What you end up with is a very practical and efficient way to maintain soil moisture also known as easy drip irrigation. This technique is very useful to the arid land gardener or even one that has a very sandy soil as the pots hold water for longer. Now this is not new, it has been done for a long time in most arid lands where people fire clay. So go on and try this time tested approach. Unless you like using those cheap soaker hoses :)


Bill Mollison shows how it’s being done in India in his series Global Gardener.

Watch Global Gardener (Bill Mollison, Permaculture) 2 – Dry lands.avi in Educational  |  View More Free Videos Online at

For a more detailed explanation, head on over the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia’s post on the subject.

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