Living off grid in the high altitude desert requires creative watering solutions. As I prepped the raised beds, I pondered how I might create a system to water the sproutlings that wasn't labor intensive (hauling buckets of water), reduced the evaporation issue we have (incessant wind), and would keep everyone watered if we were out of town (we require flexibility).
I've used plant nannies before and they work well in many instances, but their narrow "stakes" don't provide enough surface area for water transfer to the sproutlings' roots and the 750-1000 ml bottles I reuse for this purpose don't offer enough water to last for days of watering needs in the desert.
I did some research and came upon the Permaculture Research Institute. Wow! What a resource. They have an article on ollyas, a traditional application of unglazed clay pots used to efficiently water plants in arid climates. After reading the article, I began to find ollyas at local gardening stores and online. They're beautiful and they're expensive. I suppose if I was buying 1 or 2, I'd buy them. I needed many (remember the 200-ish seeds I planted?) and simply couldn't afford them.
More thinking and research and I found Global Buckets. These kids inspired me to make my own ollyas - I call them Ollies. It's an easy project and, if you have a family, a well-suited kid project.
Terra cotta pots of whatever size you like
Dr. Christine Girard is a physician and educator. Prior to medical school, she worked as a sous chef and baker at a vegan, macrobiotic restaurant. She lives off-grid in Northern Arizona.