The Ultimate Preparedness, Small Gardener, Gravity Fed Watering System Using a Bucket and Ollas
Recently, Arkopia, a small farm located in Saskatchewan, Canada, reviewed the Thirsty Earth olla watering system for gardeners inside their 4 season greenhouse.
Arkopia specialize in preparedness, homesteading, sustainability, passive solar technology, deep winter greenhouses, freeze drying & and small sustainable food production.
Check out their review:
So I think I found the ultimate preparedness, small gardener home, gravity fed watering system using a pail and these (olla cotta cups).
So I'm starting to think about our watering system in the greenhouse and outside. And I came across this new type of thing. It's, well, it's ancient technology, but these terracotta pots from a company called the Thirsty Earth.
And what it is, is a watering system that essentially uses extremely low pressure just from gravity. So no electricity, no pumps, no timers on drip lines, no nothing. And 60% less water. So essentially the water comes in [the ollas] and these are buried in a raised bed.
Whenever the plants are thirsty, they pull water through the terracotta olla pots. So they're on all the time.
And essentially whenever your plants need water, they take water. Whenever they don't need water, they don't take water.
So when you're first starting out plants, maybe little seedlings are from seed, you might have to do some surface watering. But once they get established, you could literally have a zero maintenance, zero electricity, nothing to ever screw up watering system.
So I decided to do a little experiment in my perennial established herb area. So I have different herbs and spices in here. So I put in the terracotta pots kind of as per the recommendation for their bed.
Now, this will kind of give a diameter about, they say 18 inches of watering depends on your type of soil as well. And so this at the, kind of the corner of the greenhouse, I wanna see how it works.
They have a few different types of systems. I just put a bucket gravity fed system. So you can just hand fill up this bucket and then you're good for a long time. Depends how much water your plants require and just fill that up manually.
But they also have an automatic filling system with essentially just a float valve. So just another pale with a float valve in. Now all of this is extremely low pressure.
The problem with gravity feeding is sprinklers don't work. A lot of drip systems won't work. Even if you get a drip system to work, you'll still need some timers of different kinds. Whereas this, it's just low pressure gravity that's essentially on all the time. So, whenever your plants need it, they pull from this.
So in this herb area, essentially, as long as I have water in that pail and you just check it every few days, then I don't have to do anything with.
So where I see this very, very useful is for the small home gardener. Let's say you have a bunch of raised beds, whether three foot by eight foot or three by six, a few of those in your yard, and you could collect rainwater off of your roof into just a tank.
You don't need to have the tank even high because this is such a low pressure system. You could just have a rain barrel and then plum in the rain barrel into the bucket with the float valve so that this always has its own gravity. And then your raised bed is watered from the pale. So essentially zero maintenance, as long as it rains enough to fill your barrel or check and make sure that your rain barrel's full, then you don't have to do anything for watering.
There's no valves, no controllers, no drip lines. Just set this up. So for the small gardener, let's say you have, I don't know, five or 10 or 15 raised beds in your little yard in the city or something, or just a small preparedness garden or something where maybe you're not there all the time or you're not getting into some commercial farming, like maybe we are zero maintenance as long as that there's water in there.
So you could leave to the weekend, go to the lake, you could go away, you don't have to be there all the time.
So in the greenhouse, for instance, in the summertime, especially a raised bed requires a lot of water. So I have to be here to water. So I'm trying to figure out a watering system now just because our greenhouse, our bed raised bed, this 72 feet long by four feet wide, that kind of gets to the point where this isn't particularly feasible. When you step up to almost commercial size gardens, it's worth to get a little pump, maybe a solar pump and a drip irrigation system or something like that.
But for the small gardener, man, this was, this might be the ticket. So we're lucky enough to have well water and a large enough area and roofs that we can collect a lot of rainwater.
But in even acreage developments close to me, they're not allowed to do a well. So they have in the summertime, if they want any sort of garden or yard, massive water bills, like we're talking $800, $900 a month. Or if you live in the city, you don't have a well or maybe the government and their infinite wisdom doesn't let you collect rainwater. So this is a water conserving device too.
So you're not just watering the surface that's gonna dry out. You're watering underground where the plants need.
It's not good to get water on like tomato plants above ground. You wanna water the roots and have the plants bring up water through the roots. So if you could have massive water savings, if you have a water bill or you're on a municipal water or something, this could be a big saving device.
If you live in an arid area where it doesn't get a lot of rainfall and you need water, then you really have to worry about saving water as well. Plum it all together. And once they're all in about 18 inches apart kind of thing, as per their recommendations, they have diagrams on their website how to properly do it. So every plant gets the necessary water, then plummet into your five gallon bucket and that's literally it.
Fill it up with water. Or if you have the automatic system, plum into a larger tank or your municipal water like pressurized hose water, hose fitting to the bucket. So the bucket's always full and there's always water, then you're not hand watering. We had the odd, self-watering pots and planters, type of thing and those were kind of expensive as well.
But if you have a few of those or planters kind of spread out, maybe some more valuable trees or shrubs in pots, you could use these as the plumb them all together to just one pail or just your hose fitting and you have an automatic self-watering without having to buy a specific self-watering planter. So this kind of takes care of that as well.
Our banana plants, they grow fast. They use a lot of water. So I'm doing an experiment with these that if I put three around one of the big bananas, if it's gonna be enough to keep them watered. So I'm gonna monitor that. But if you have just sporadic kind of shrubs or more expensive fruit trees or whatever you could gravity feed that. So off of the rainwater to a tank from the tank, extreme low pressure, if it's just enough to get into a pail.
And then all you need is the water in the pail and it's super low pressure system and it works right, whereas a drip line requires a certain amount of psi and if you have a rainwater tank full, it's gonna give you more kind of pressure in the drip lines. If it's half full, it's not enough pressure. So maybe at the end of your drip line, you're not gonna be getting any water pressure or you need it on timers because if it's a gravity fed drip system, you need to stop it because what if it's raining outside and you don't need water that day type of thing.
Or this just calls for water whenever the plants need it. So it's essentially on all the timer. So if you have a little greenhouse, like mine's kind of commercial size, so I don't know if this is gonna work for the bulk of the greenhouse, I have to do some sort of drip line system and pressurized water is what I'm kind of thinking.
But if you had a small greenhouse, like maybe eight by 12 or or 10 by 20 and a few raised beds, maybe a raised bed front and back or something, and you put this in connected to rainwater, that greenhouse is complete zero maintenance, zero electricity, zero timers, zero drip line.
It's the ultimate preparedness of small gardener setup.
So I don't have any promo codes for you. So I figured I'd look into this and try it, but if you wanna learn more, it's the Thirsty Earth and you can kind of check out.
They have kits for a specific size raised bed. So if you have five of them, then you buy five kits and you can pick if you want a standard bucket or you want the auto filling bucket. It's pretty cool. Pretty cool engineering technology with some modern hoses. Keep it simple, stupid. That's always the best way to do it. So thanks for watching. We'll catch you next time.