If you haven’t noticed, I’m off on one of my whinny postings again. This time it’s about what do I do to plant and care for what I hope will be a productive dry-land summer garden.
Terracotta pots (Unglazed, unfired) in my garden. DIY – To reduce your garden’s water usage this summer (and low maintenance watering), buried clay pot irrigation might just be the trick. It’s a new concept to me but this method has apparently been around for centuries yet still offers value to today’s gardener.
Here’s how they work. Bury unglazed terracotta clay pots in the ground keeping the mouth level with or just above the soil surface and then fill them with water.
As the soil dries, suction develops and the water slowly seeps out from inside the pot and into the soil around it, the suction force is created by soil moisture tension and plant roots. This is a naturally automatic system, if it’s been raining, the soil is wet so there is no moisture tension and the pots don’t release any water. The soil gets just what it needs, right when it needs it with no gadgets or sensors required!
How many do you need? Each pot will water the plants within its immediate area. The larger the pot you use, the larger the area it covers and the less often you have to refill it up with water.
Since the pots are buried, water is delivered more efficiently at root level rather than above the soil surface with water needing to travel only a few inches to reach your plants roots system. To keep the system working optimally, add more water to the pots as needed and avoid letting them dry out completely.
Dig the pots up at the end of the growing season to prevent breakage over cold winter months and to allow you to easily till your garden plot.
This method can be used in container gardening as well, you’ll just need to use smaller clay pots that will fit inside the containers or planter boxes leaving enough room for the plants to thrive.
What kind of pots do I use?. They need to be unglazed clay pots and can have a wide or narrow mouth. Select pots that don’t have a long or fragile neck so they’ll withstand being buried without breaking. You can use regular terracotta flower pots but make sure to seal the pot drainage hole. Keep the mouth of the jar covered to prevent insects and debris from getting inside and to help reduce water loss through evaporation. If there are no fitted lids for the jars, you can use a inverted pot of the same size, flat rocks, shells or ceramic tiles depending on the size of the pot opening.
Hint To test whether a pot will work or not, fill it with water and watch if the outside surface becomes damp. If it does, it’s porous enough to work as a plant watering device.
Useful Tip Because the soil is kept moist inches below the soil surface, this helps reduce the growth of weeds this also means less water consumption and less maintenance.
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