In my internet wanderings I came across a post somewhere about ollas. An olla is a low fired unglazed clay pot with a narrow opening that is ‘planted’ in the ground and filled with water. Its narrow opening sits an inch or so above ground and is often covered with a lid. The porous clay slowly waters the plants situated next to it using a fraction of the water a normal watering would use. In arid regions ollas have been used for millennia and do work quite well from what I’m reading. Some might wonder what use an olla would be in the rainy PNW. Actually the summer months can be quite dry. Last summer there were weeks at a time where I was watering daily. It got so bad we were wondering if the well we used would run dry. If an olla could put a dent in that it would be awesome.
In the quest to ‘do-it-myself’ I found some YouTube videos that dealt with making your own olla with a couple of terra cotta pots, some silicone and gorilla glue. I may end up trying that but once I put together how much it would cost, time required and the ‘would it even work’ factor I chickened out and decided to purchase an olla (two actually). Home Depot had a sale going on and I was able to pick up two for what I would have paid for one at the garden outlets. The company that makes them, GrowOya has three sizes, I opted for the medium 3L size. I would have loved the larger one but not sure my raised bed (that pretty much sits on bedrock) is deep enough to accept it. I’m sure it depends on soil structure and number of plants but the site says the medium size will accommodate about a 3′ sq area. My plan is to use the two ollas as the sole source of water to water the squash I planted today (once it is established). If it turns out to be a success I may have to revisit those YouTube videos.
My first attempt at pole beans this year was a total flop. I wanted till the end of a warm spell to plant the beans which essentially disappeared (rotted?). I waited for the next warm spell and planted again. This time there was germination but it was spotty at best. Rather than try for beans 3.0 I’ve decided to offer the end of the trellis to a couple of cucumbers I started from seed. That’ll show em.
Park seed had a sale on the new BrazelBerry ‘Raspberry Shortcake’. This miniature little raspberry grows 2-3′ tall and is reported to do great in a container. The sale was half off the normal price so I picked one up. I was pleasantly surprised when it was delivered. There were half a dozen leafy canes in a 1 gallon pot. There were even a couple of raspberries!
A couple of weeks ago we tried roasted jerusalem artichokes for the first time. The taste was great but the gastric aftereffects were…interesting. I’m game for trying them again, so decided to plant the couple of small tubers that were in the batch I purchased at the local grocery. They’ve been in 6″ pots since then and all are about half an inch out of the ground. Today I potted all three in a 30L pot. No way I was planting them in the garden. Once you do you have them forever. I opted to grow them even if we don’t end up eating them. They have pretty little yellow flowers and would make a nice color addition to the garden.
In addition to a number of pots on the floor of the 50’ft balcony I have three long and two small round railing planters. I had started pansies in the three larger planters early this spring. One was replanted with the tomatoes and nasturtiums several weeks ago. Another was replanted today with a couple of mini dahlias, some allysum and a couple of lobelia. It will be gorgeous if I can keep enough water on it.
Other Garden Happenings
My garden is a 10’x20′ space that takes up two plots in the Rock Farm Community Garden. In order to be able to access the entire space, I placed some stepping stones down most of the bed in the middle effectively creating two 4.5’x17′ beds and one large 3’x10′ bed. A fellow gardener planted sweet allysum (Lobularia maritima aka Alyssum maritimum) between the stones in her garden and I loved the look so much I purchased a couple of 4 packs for my garden. My grandmother always grew and loved white allysum so I like to grow some every year. She’s been gone over 30 years but seeing the flowers always makes her feel close.
In addition to the allysum I planted out the zucchini and some zinnias I started from seed. Historically I’ve kept the veggie garden ‘pure’ but I’m finding that I really enjoy a few flowers sprinkled here and there too.
The last of the spinach came out last weekend. It had pretty much all bolted and there wasn’t’ very much of it left. This was a small patch of Bloomsdale I planted very early in the season.
This past week saw the beginning of the snow peas and the first harvest of beets for the year. I planted a couple of varieties and this was an early planting of cylinder beets. They are roasting in the oven with some parsnips as I type. Speaking of parsnips, I may try growing some this year. They would be a brand new crop for me, tried salsify once in KY but never parsnips. A gardening calendar for the area recommended a June planting. If the weather holds tomorrow I may have to make a trip to the garden center to pick up some seed. They are a fairly long season crop that can overwinter in the ground here and are actually reported to get sweeter with the onset of cold weather.
All in all it was a good week gardening wise. It has rained on and off today so I was only able to get my hands in the soil this morning. Hoping for some more dirt time tomorrow.