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An Olla for the Goji . . . and for Cheap



         or: Sub-surface irrigation technological device


Doesn’t that sound difficult and scientific? Well, it’s not and I’ll show you how. But, first . . .

I’m kind of cheap. Don’t get me wrong, I like nice things. Very nice things.

I didn’t say I was tacky. OK, there are those dangly, gold earrings that look like coral hanging from a blue stone, but, they look good with white in the summer. Or blue.


Olla coral earrings

Photo by Derek


And Monkey, the topiary, who hangs out back. But, he’s cute.


I just don’t like to spend too much money for them. Actually, I don’t mind spending money– if it’s not mine. But, since neither my guy nor I are trust fund babies, it’s up to us.

Which brings me to ollas.

Oi-Yahs. I know, I said, O-lahs, at first, too. But, that’s wrong.

Remember earlier, the sub-surface irrigation technological device? Here it is:

They’ve been around for a gazillion years. Olla means pot and they’ve been used for everything from cooking to a funeral urn to whatever was needed for storage from the Roman times until today.

The Spanish settlers brought the first ones to the Southwest, but let’s face it, the native American Indians had been using pots for years. And, that’s all it is. A pot. A porous, terracotta pot. You chose what you want to do with it.

We’re putting water in ours. They’re useful in gardens for perpetual watering. And, since they’re the ‘latest thing’, they’ve become more expensive. So, we’re going to make our own. All you need are two like-sized terracotta pots, a piece of tile to cover one drainage hole, Gorilla glue or silicone, and a terracotta saucer or rock or something you like to cover the hole in the exposed pot.

I bought a Goji berry plant at the market Saturday. We put Goji berries in our smoothies. My guy likes chocolate covered Goji berries for a snack. (Actually, he likes the chocolate, the goji berry is simply a vehicle to get the chocolate in his mouth and pretend he’s being nutritious.) 

Now, to show you how to make your own personal Ollas! You could buy two pots at the garden center, but these were sitting in the back yard for free.


Olla 2 pots



Glue/silicone a piece of tile or something flat to cover one drainage hole in one pot. I used silicone form my guy’s warehouse storage, so that was free, too.


Olla silicone tube


Olla tile covering pot hole


Silicone one pot rim.


Olla silicone on pot


Then, stick them together and let dry overnight.


Olla 2 pots siliconed together


Dig a hole and bury the pot near your plant. I dug one long hole deep and wide enough for both, then back filled a bit of dirt so the plant wouldn’t be too deep.




Olla Goji bush & pots buried


Fill the buried pot with water and place something over top of the exposed hole to keep out bugs and debris. I used an oyster shell, but I’m thinking about slipping the stem end of one of those colored glass balls that waters plants in the hole. That would add a little color. But, it might be tacky.


Olla pot being filled with water


Drawbacks to this method of watering:

  • Pots may not survive harsh, cold winters and can crack
  • Root from nearby plants can cause pot to crack
  • Cracked pots are useless & must be removed

Positives to the method of watering:

  • Healthier root system– water is delivered evenly to the roots, thereby creating a deep, healthy root system
  • Regular watering– plants are watered even when you’re out of town or too busy
  • Saves money– there is no wasted water through evaporation or runoff
  • Less weeding– since the surface soil stays dry & less hospitable to weeds
  • Prevents over watering– the roots leach water through the porous wall of the pot.


This is how it looked in the yard when finished.


Olla pot with Goji and shell


But, overall, I’d say this is a great idea. I’ll let you know how the Goji likes it this summer.

Or you can skip all of this and just buy one here.


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