Ollas

When I was researching an efficient way to water my garden I came across an ancient Indian method using Ollas. Trying to find them online to purchase was a more of a task than learning about them. I decided to contact Stephen, a local potter to see if he could make them for me. He was up for the challenge. He had recently come across some local clay from a mudslide in the North Cascades, near his home. Below is what he wrote about them on his Facebook page.

From Sauk Mountain Pottery: “We had someone approach us recently about making some ollas for the raised beds in her garden. Ollas, as you may know, are unglazed pots that can be buried in the ground, filled with water, and then, because they are unglazed, left to seep that water, slowly irrigating any plants growing there. Usually we would not be able to take this order because this potter’s work is high fire and, consequently, non-porous, so if he were to make an olla it would not seep moisture (hence the success of our chicken bricks – the non-porous nature of these cooking pots keeps the moisture circulating on the inside). But this new, local clay that I wrote about in reference to the roof tiles, cannot be high fired, therefore making a perfect medium for ollas. Here are some photos of the ollas in the wet work and also fired (to a low temperature) and a couple of planters that the potter made with the local clay. These planters would be for outside use only since they are porous.”

Post from Sauk Mountain Pottery about the origin of the clay for the Ollas.
Post from Sauk Mountain Pottery about the origin of the clay for the Ollas.
Digging holes for the ollas in the center of the beds. Their soak radias is about 3-4 feet.
Digging holes for the ollas in the center of the beds. Their soak radias is about 3-4 feet.
Olla from Sauk Mountain Pottery.
Olla from Sauk Mountain Pottery.
Olla in place.
Olla in place.
Reflection...olla filled with water. The water will slowly seep out and water the plants.
Reflection…olla filled with water. The water will slowly seep out and water the plants.
Couple of ollas in place.
Couple of ollas in place.
Ollas in place. They water the whole bed. Only have to water every few days in the hot summer weather.
Ollas in place. They water the whole bed. Only have to water every few days in the hot summer weather.
More ollas in place.
More ollas in place.
Large ollas are unlgazed ceramic pots. Bought from Summersun Nursery.
Large ollas are unlgazed ceramic pots. Bought from Summersun Nursery.
Large ollas in place.
Large ollas in place.
Small ceramic plate to cover drainage hole in large ollas.
Small ceramic plate to cover drainage hole in large ollas.
Covered the drainage hole with a small ceramic base and a heavy rock.
Covered the drainage hole with a small ceramic base and a heavy rock.
The large ollas with the holes plugged, holding water good so it slowly seeps out over the next few days.
The large ollas with the holes plugged, holding water good so it slowly seeps out over the next few days.

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