If you are looking for ways to reduce water usage this summer (and low maintenance watering), buried clay pot irrigation might just be the trick you’re after. It’s a new concept to me but this method has apparently been around for centuries yet still offers value to today’s gardener and worm composter.
Here’s the scoop: The idea is to bury clay pots in the ground making sure to keep the mouth level with (or just above) the soil surface and then fill them with water.
As the soil dries, suction develops and the water slowly seeps out from inside the pot and into the soil around it. This is a naturally automatic system, if it’s been raining, the soil is wet so there is no moisture tension and the pots don’t release any water. The soil gets just what it needs, right when it needs it.
How many do you need? Each pot will water the area within its immediate area (responding to the soil moisture tension around it). The larger the pot you use, the larger the area it covers (and the less often you have to top it up with water).
Since the pots are buried, water is delivered more efficiently rather than above the soil surface. To keep the system working optimally, add more water to the pots as needed and avoid letting them dry out completely. This method can be used in container composting as well, you’ll just need to use smaller clay pots that will fit inside the containers or planter boxes.
What kind of pots to use: They need to be unglazed clay pots (otherwise the water will be sealed inside and won’t seep out) and can have a wide or narrow mouth. Select pots that don’t have a long or fragile neck so they’ll withstand being buried without breaking. You can use regular flower pots but make sure to seal closed the drainage hole. Keep the mouth of the jar covered to prevent insects and debris from getting inside and to help reduce water loss through evaporation. If there are no fitted lids for the jars, you can use flat rocks, shells or ceramic tiles depending on the size of the hole.