I thought that I would share my experience thus far this Spring using an olla for watering my small garden. (Is it spring if the temperature as I write this is 105 degrees?) Please comment freely.
I'm located in NE Phoenix. My vegetable garden consists of a grand total of 4 Armenian cucumber plants and 4 butternut squash plants. All were planted from seed around mid-April in 2 separate containers, 15-18 inches wide and 10-11 inches deep. On about April 11 (approximately 17 days after germination) 2 cucumber plants and 2 squash plants were transplanted to a plot in the ground with an olla in the center. The olla was made from 2 - 6 inch pots and holds not quite a gallon of water.
Here's the plants in the original containers before transplanting
Here's the olla going into the ground:
Here's the transplants shortly after being moved (looking pretty sad):
Here's the containers today:
And the transplants today:
Now having said all that, here's (to me) the interesting part. Most days I have had to water the container plants once averaging 1.5 to 2 gallons of water per container. In the current hot weather of 100-110 degrees this week, I've had to water them 2 times daily. The olla watered plants on the other hand have been watered every 2nd or 3rd day, usually needing less than ½ gallon each time. In the current hot weather I'm topping it of daily with less than ½ gallon each time.
I know this is entirely unscientific, i.e. different containers, close but slightly different locations, some in containers the others in the ground, etc. but the difference in the amount of water needed is striking to me. In addition, the olla watered plants, although smaller than the container plants are healthier looking. Also, the container plants have had some days where they were watered in the morning but by the time I get home from work they had wilted and needed immediate watering. The olla watered plants don't experience that. They appear to be consistently getting water as needed. I'm attributing the difference in size to being transplanted, especially since I did it mid-morning on a hot, sunny day. And they are catching up with the container plants. But so far the difference in the amount of water needed, the ease of watering and the availability of water as needed to the plants has me sold on ollas.
I'm wondering about the experiences of other folks using ollas and any comments that people might have.