This Low-Tech Gravity-Fed Watering System Is Based on an Ancient Irrigation Technique

Three terracotta bulbs

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Clayola Egypt's low-tech watering setup can keep your houseplants or garden watered when you're away.

The use of unglazed terracotta pots, also known as ollas, for efficient 'drip' irrigation in gardens goes back thousands of years, and is a proven low-tech method of conserving water while delivering moisture directly into the soil. And although it's easy enough to build your own olla watering system with clay plant pots, sometimes you want a ready-made option, and one with some additional functionality, which is what Clayola Egypt has developed and is selling through Etsy.

Clayola Egypt's Self-Watering System

The Clayola self-watering system, which comes in a set of 6 clay pots that are unglazed on the bottom to let water seep through, yet have a glazed top to minimize evaporation, is designed to be connected to a water reservoir in series, which then keeps the pots full of water for up to a month at a time. This makes the Clayola system a great option for a hands-off house and garden plant irrigation setup that could help make weekend trips or vacation time a bit easier, as it can keep plants watered automatically, with no expensive sensors or hardware required.

How It Works

"As water evaporates from a plant's leaves, it draws water from the soil and as the soil dries up water is drawn from the Clayola to the soil. In Effect the plant extracts the water it needs from each clay pot. After a while a plant's root system will find the source of water and literally hug the Clayola, allowing for maximum water use." - Clayola

Each of the Clayola pots, which measure 12 cm tall by 8 cm wide, has a lid that incorporates two connectors (one input and one outflow) that join the pot to the water supply and to the next pot in line, and a simple gravity siphon system inserted into the water reservoir (such as a 5-gallon water carboy) keeps the water level in each pot topped off automatically. According to the company, a 20-liter container of water can keep 6 to 8 plants watered for several weeks in the summer, and more than a month in the winter. It's also recommended to connect a reclaimed water source, such as harvested rainwater or air conditioner condensation, to the water tank as a way to further conserve water.

The pots are handmade in Egypt, and can be shipped worldwide, with a set of 6 pots priced at about $30 plus shipping.

H/T Springwise