Questions & Answers


Question: Does this olla garden watering system work for row gardening?

Answer: Yes it does. To capitalize on the water plume the olla creates, you'll want to base your row spacing around our ollas 18" diameter water plume.


Question: Can I install this olla watering system if I've already planted my garden?

Answer: Yes. You might need to adjust our recommended placement of your ollas to give your established plants a little more room. Shoot for burying the olla cup 3"-6” or so from the plant. Where you place your olla is a judgement call based on the size of your plant and roots. Also, our auger is helpful when installing in an existing garden. Use the auger slowly and be gentle on any roots you encounter.


Question: What if I plant seeds? Will I need to overhead water?

Answer: To directly sow seeds make sure they are planted within a 6" radius (12" diameter) of your Cotta Cup in order to ensure they receive enough moisture for germination. They need to be sown to their appropriate depth as the top 1/4" of soil will be too dry unless it's underneath a mulch layer.


Question: How do you know your system uses 61% less water over drip lines?

Answer: Through extensive testing we have measured how much water our cups emit at 0.5 psi. We've compared this with drip emitters laid out identically and measured the water usage.


Question: What is the buckets for in the kits?

Answer: Your bucket/reservoir that's included in your kit will fill your Cotta Cups (terracotta ollas). Handfill kits: Fill your 2.5 or 5 gallon bucket weekly. Your bucket will fill your cotta cups (ollas). Auto-filling kits will automatically fill cotta cups by a hose hook up, single drip line, sprinkler head or rain barrel.


Question: Where do I put my bucket/reservoir?

Answer: Place your bucket/reservoir in your garden bed or anywhere around it. Your bucket needs to be 6"-to-level with your soil for optimal water flow to your cotta cups.


Question: What size are the olla cotta cups?

Answer: The cups are just under 3" in diameter and 7" in height. The internal capacity is 14.4 oz fluid volume, but that capacity is supplemented by the much larger reservoir the cup system is fed from. They emit roughly 250ml / day and so 6-12 cups will last a week from a 2.5 or 5 gallon hand fill reservoir. 250ml / day at the 0.5 psi we recommend they run on.


Question: What if something breaks in my watering system? Are the parts under warranty?

Answer: Your Thirsty Earth Watering System comes with a 100% Money-Back Guarantee. Our intention is you're blown away at how easy it is to grow healthy plants while using a fraction of the water. But if you don't feel we've delivered on our promise to help you grow a healthy garden, using 61% less water, submit your refund request within 30 days of purchase, mail back your kit, and we'll promptly refund your fees (minus your shipping costs).


Question: Will this work for my nonstandard bed layout such as a keyhole bed or similar?
Answer: Yes, absolutely. We're working on guides for a variety of different bed types now. Contact Eric for a custom layout: (707) 536-3391 or


Question: Do the pots need to be removed at the end of the growing season?
Answer: The pots need to be removed at the end of the growing season if you live in a climate with hard winter freezes (USDA grow zones 8 and below). We've tested them down to 16* for a week without failure but recommend removal for maximum longevity. If you opt to leave them in, make sure to turn the water off 2-3 weeks before things freeze to allow the cups time to drain themselves empty.
Question: How do the auto-fill kits work?
Answer: Included in the auto fill kits are fittings that convert a water source, such as rain barrel, hose spigot, sprinkler head, or drip line to 1/4" tubing. The 1/4" tubing then runs from whichever fitting adapter you use to the back of the included auto-fill reservoir.
Question: How many cups can be daisy chained together?
Answer: 100 cups on 100' on 1/4 line before you'll want to step up to 1/2" tubing or use another reservoir. It also depends on the size of your reservoir and how often you want to fill it. In an auto-fill reservoir with constant water feed, it would never be the bottleneck. An auto-fill reservoir on a timer filling once per day can handle up to 30 cups at the 0.5 psi recommended pressures. The 2.5 or 5 gallon hand fill reservoir can handle 6-11 cups for 1 weeks time or 75 cups for a 24 hour period.
Question: What if I have a bump in the lines such as bridging two beds fed from one reservoir?
Answer: That's totally doable but your reservoir will need to be higher than the highest point or else water won't flow past the bump.
Question: What if I have terraces?
Answer: You'll want to run an auto-fill reservoir at each terrace level and chain the reservoirs together for consistent pressure. Or have a hand-filled bucket for each terrace level.
Question: I live in a very hot environment that regularly gets over 100* in the summer. What should I do to ensure my plants have enough water?
Answer: First, mulch 2" - 4" of straw, grass clippings, or wood chips and improving soil health with compost. Then, you've got two Thirsty Earth specific options here - higher pressure or higher cup density. Higher pressure can be achieved by elevating the reservoir to be 1-2 feet above the soil level, raising your pressure from 0.5 psi to 1 psi or even a little above. Higher cup density looks like spacing based on a 12" plume diameter rather than the 18" that is normal in milder climates. Either, or both, will ensure your plants get that extra little bit of water to help them beat the heat. For super thirsty plants like squash, zucchini, melons, tomatoes you could even consider giving them 2 cups per plant in more extreme desert environments.
Question: What are some possible problems you've seen with the cups?
Answer: If a person tries to run them off of straight hose pressure instead of using a reservoir, they're not designed for that and it creates a gushing leak. Other common issues might be the push-to-connect fitting isn't pushed on to where it's fully seated, or the screw cap sin't tightened enough, or the cups haven't been air purged yet and need to be. They're all pretty easy fixes.

Question: Is there anything special I need to do filling the cups up for the first time?

Answer: Yes, you'll need to air purge the lines. Remove the drainage screw from each cup and turn your water on at the reservoir. Water flowing from the drainage hole indicates the cup is full. When all the cups are full, turn off your shut off & screw the drainage screws back in.
Question: What if I just want to run them off a hose directly without a reservoir?
Answer: You will be feeding the cups between 40 - 80 psi when they are designed to work from 0 - 3 psi. Direct hose pressure will create gushing leaks and all sorts of problems. Use a reservoir as intended.

Question: Approximately how many growing seasons will they last?
Answer: As far as growing seasons, we haven't worn any to the point of failure yet in the couple of years we've been using them. The longevity is basically how long plastic and terra cotta take to break down. With a little bit of care that should be many, many years.
Question: Will hard water affect the pots over time?

Answer: We haven't had that experience yet, but if you have hard water and are worried about it you might consider using a filter or applying the maintenance techniques used for drip systems when dealing with hard water.


Question: What is the approximate radius of moisture around each pot?

Answer: The approximate radius of moisture is 9". That radius will not all be equal, however. The closer to the pot the higher the concentration of water. So for thirsty plants like squash, zucchini, melons, tomatoes, etc. you would want to plant within 3" of the cup, preferably right up against it.


Question: I have a 2'x4' planter, what should I do?
Answer: Go with our 3'x4' kit and place the 3 included cups in an evenly spaced row.


Have more questions? Give Eric a call (707) 536-3391, Monday through Friday 9am - 5pm MST


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