Tanya Anderson, author, YouTube creator, organic gardener reviews the Thirsty Earth Olla Watering System and Gives Us Some Pro Gardening Tips
Watch as Tanya prepares and plants three raised beds in her polycrub. She'll also install the new Thirsty Earth automatic olla watering system to keep her plants watered this summer. She'll give you tips on planting eggplants, growing tomatoes on strings, and creating simple wood chip paths.
Check it out:
15:34 Recap of today's work
16:20 The Thirsty Earth discount code
There's been a flurry of new subscribers in the past couple of weeks, so I thought I would take the opportunity to introduce myself again, my name is Tanya Anderson. I'm an author, I'm a YouTube creator. I'm a soap maker and I'm an organic gardener.
And I live in the Aisle of Man, which is a crown dependency of the United Kingdom. It's a little island of about 85,000 people. We're between Ireland and England, and it's approximately zone 8b to 9a. But it never really gets that cold here. It never really gets that hot here, and it's quite windy.
So to grow heat loving crops like eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, sweet potatoes, I need to grow them undercover in a warmer place. And we're sitting here in the poly crop. The poly is a hard shell poly tunnel. It stays really warm in here.
It's in its second year of growing. We just built it the beginning of last year, and it has seen one fantastic year of growing summer harvest, and then I've had it planted up with a few crops over the winter just to see how things went was fantastic.
And now it's time to clear it out and get it planted up with some more summer crops. And so I'm gonna take you along with me today as I clear out the crops as we put in some more compost, mulch, plant, planted up with the plants that I've been growing on in the greenhouse. And I'm also installing a new olla irrigation system in the beds here.
As time goes on and as climates change and as temperatures rise and rainfall decreases, we are gonna see a lot more arid conditions in our gardens. And at least here, we've had hoses for the past three years during key points of the summer. So thinking about watering and thinking about smart watering is something that's on my mind, and I think it's on a lot of people's minds as well. So I'm gonna introduce you to what I'm trialing this here and let you see how that all works. So let's get to work.
The last time that I had you inside the poly crumb, it looked a little bit different because the last of the winter crops were still in here, including spring cabbage that were right here, front and center. So I've taken those out. I've transplanted quite a few of the plant set over wintered and were perennial and then took down the rest. And then the other thing was that the soil level had dropped dramatically. It had basically settled out since we filled these guys last year for the first time. The original fill was top soil and compost and vermiculite. So 40% soil, 40% compost, and then the rest vermiculite. And what we've done is top up these beds with just more pure compost. This is green waste compost. And then down here there is some manure base compost, and both of them are really good. They feed the soil, they feed the plants, they help lock moisture into these beds, and they protect the soil.
So mulching with compost is always, always a good idea. This bed over here, I filled myself, and then I put in the olla system. It's all ready to go, it's all working.
And then I've set out the terracotta cups over here because I need to dig them in next, but before I dig them in and they disappear for a good long while, I just wanna tell you a little bit more about how they work. Now, as I've mentioned before, I've got several videos describing how to make DIY ollas, and you can use terracotta pots. It's really simple. And with those, you manually top them up, you sink them into the soil and they help to keep plants watered. How does it work? Terracotta? Terracotta is a porous material, so you can hold water in it, but it gets wet on the outside because water wicks right through the material.
It doesn't leak. It's just kind of a gradual moisture being pulled out, and it only makes the soil on the outside of the pot moist. Plants sense that moisture and grow their roots towards the pot latch on. And then they are literally tapped into a water reservoir that you sink in the soil.
Olla is a Spanish word for pot. We also use the word for these devices that have been around for thousands of years, and they've been really important in agriculture, in the Americas, in the Middle East, India, other places. And up until now, a lot of people have not even heard of ollas or they've been just using DIY versions like I show how to make in my video. Those are fantastic.
But what makes this product really good is what you have at the top. So it's a closed container. It's got a plastic top, so you've got no evaporation coming off, and it is fed by a water reservoir, which means that you don't have to manually water each one of these little cups. You just fill the container with water, the main reservoir, and it feeds all of these cups. So it's saves time, keeps those plants watered, and you use a lot less water overall.
This first bed is where I'm growing the eggplant this year, and I think I've got seven or eight plants, and they grow to quite big and sprawling plants that need support. And I'll have strings coming down for when they get a little bit bigger so that I can tie them up and lift the fruits up so that they don't droop here on top of the compost. And they have an extensive root system as well. Now, when it comes to the larger DIY ollas, you can get away with having two plants near each one. Two larger plants like this, because it's a much larger reservoir, there's more space for the plant roots to grow around. But with these terracotta cups, although this is the first time I'm using them, they're much smaller and I would say one cup to one plant. And that's how I'm doing it.
So with planting this guy, I'm going to have it relatively close to the olla. I would say a couple of inches to about six inches I would say. And that way the plant can sense that moisture and start growing towards it. And the roots will spread out all over the place here as well. Searching for nutrients, searching for water. But if some of them latch onto this pot, they can definitely start tapping into that water right away. And then right through the summer when you're planting eggplant, you can plant them deep just like you can to tomatoes, and they'll grow roots right off the stem. So I've dug a hole about that deep. What I'm gonna do is I'm gonna put in a sprinkling of fish, bone and blood just for extra nutrients. And then I'm going to plant this guy in to write up about there. And I'm gonna give it a good watering in as well. You always wanna water plants in regardless of if there's an olla nearby.
I'm now at the last bed, the obje, the eggplant, they're all planted up along there. The peppers and the melons as well. Over here, the sweet potatoes, more peppers and indigo, and here in the middle all along here. These are all different types of tomatoes, various types of beef, steak, cherry tomatoes, stuffing tomatoes, you name it. And they're all indeterminate, which means that they'll keep growing and growing and growing until you pinch off the growing tip and make sure that none of the suckers off the side start growing and becoming an absolute jungle. And it's very, very easy to grow tomatoes up a single string. And I'm gonna show you how I do it. I've seen people make this much more complicated than it needs to be. This is heavy duty hessian or jut string. Got it from the garden center. Last year I tried using wool stringing.
Don't do that. It's snapped on several occasions and I've made it long enough so that it can come straight down to where this tomato plant is going to be planted. And then quite a bit of extra string as well. And I've dug a hole here that is deep enough to plant this tomato up to. Its very first set of leaves there. And tomatoes, just like obje, they will form roots right off the stem, and that makes them a really strong plant. If you plant them deep, they create more roots, which means they are secured more firmly in the ground and they have more roots to get nutrients and moisture. So we've got those hole. I'm gonna put some fishbone and blood in there as well. Give it a good mix. And then what I'm going to do is just drop the string into this hole and let it just coil up at the bottom.
This tomato is the dark orange muscat. And this is one that a friend gave me. And next, just take it out of the pot, place it on top of the string in this hole and just fill it in. So what we have here is a tomato plant at the base of this string. As the roots grow, they'll get entwined with that string and hold it down. You will not be able to pull this up once this plant gets a little bit taller. And when the plant gets about ye tall, you just start winding the plant around the string as it grows. And it is honestly as easy as that
The plants have had overnight to settle in. And I wanna show you all the plantings now. We'll have a look at them and see them in their smallest form, because these are going to be massive and growing all the way to the rafters in here in no time at all. Now down the middle here, this is where all of the tomatoes are tomatoes, tomatoes. And as I said before, as these grow, I'll wind them around the string. And there are actually a couple of larger ones. I'll show you how that works. So for example, with this one, you can see the string just winding around. You don't need to tie it, nothing. You just wind it around as it grows vertically. So for example, here, I can just wind it around and I can see that there's a little sucker coming out here. I'm just gonna nip that off side shoot rather.
And that's all you do. You just keep an eye on your plants. As they grow vertically, you just keep winding them around the string. It's a bit eaten by slugs, you can see down here. But this is a spinach, and I did grow them last year and they seeded. And so this is one that grew all on its own. And just look at how intense that magenta is. It comes off on your finger as well. So if you rub your finger across it, you can see that magenta kind of gritty material, completely edible. And this should get to about four, five feet tall. The plants are all relatively close together, but they're going to have so much space for their roots in this big raised bed. And also, again, that vertical space. I did have a spare tomato plants that didn't fit, and I wanted to grow.
This is the noir, this is the second one. I just wanna make sure that I get a good crop this year because they look like beautiful tomatoes. So I've tucked it in here alongside these plants. These are indigo. It's my first year growing them. I've grown them from seed, and it's a natural blue dye plant, and it needs a warm, protected environment. You can see the slugs have been at it in the greenhouse too. So hopefully by the end of the summer I'll be able to harvest my own indigo and extract that blue pigment. Now you can see the fencing along the wall here, and it's just ordinary wire fencing. And Josh stapled it using his compressor to the really heavy duty plastic beams in here. And then he's also gone ahead and put some extra screws in just to make sure that this doesn't fall down from the weight of sweet potato vines.
Last year I grew two sweet potatoes. They were a success. And so this year I've put in six plants, and these are all grown from slips from last year's crop. And you can see them all along here. And in theory, they should climb up this fencing, and I'm going to train them. They will most definitely try to grow out this direction as well. But I'll try to just keep them cut back because I do have some peppers in here, including uh, paprika peppers, so specifically for paprika spice. And I really wanna make sure that I get a good crop off of these guys. Another thing that I quite like about the Thirsty Earth's Olla cups irrigation system is the packaging. It is all just brown paper, so I can compost this and then also use this cardboard to help me get on top of, uh, creating wood chip paths around these beds.
I am not gonna lie, it has been some hard work these past few days. First, clearing these beds of winter crops, bringing in compost, building the trellis for the sweet potatoes, putting in the olla irrigation system, planting it up, putting in supports for some of the crops like the melons and the tomatoes. And then at the end, I used the cardboard from the olla irrigation system and started on the wood chip pads around the birdie's beds. So a lot of hard work, but it is satisfying to see it all planted up and ready to go. And also the Olla system already working. I have been looking for something like this for a while. I'm really pleased with it thus far. And I will of course give you updates as the summer progresses if you are interested in learning a little bit more about it.
You can visit Tanya's beautiful online store here: https://lovelygreens.com/