For generations families have been gathering around fireplaces during cold weather, and while technological advances have given us many alternatives to heating our homes with an open flame, nothing quite replaces it. There’s just something about the crackling of the logs, the glow of the embers, and the ever-changing flickering of the flames that fire up imaginations, draw us in, and encourage us to dream.
A useful skill to know when the power goes out from a winter storm, cooking on the woodstove or in the fireplace is also just plain fun. Wood fire dishes range from roasted hot dogs to whole meals—including bread.
For tens of thousands of years, the flickering flames and warmth of a fire on the hearth has been an integral part of daily human life. We can all identify with the calm and peaceful feeling of looking into the heart of an open fire. But, the advent of modern heating and cooking appliances has taken the open flame out of most of our homes. Electric stoves and fireplaces are an easy way to introduce the realistic and satisfying effect of burning wood into any room while providing safe, clean and efficient heat.
Olla (Spanish, pronounced “oh-ya”) jars have been around since ancient times. Made of unglazed ceramic, ollas traditionally have short, narrow necks with wider bodies, and are made in a variety of shapes. They have been used for thousands of years for cooking, storage, and plant irrigation.
When used to irrigate plants, an olla is buried neck-deep in the ground near a plant’s roots, with the opening of the olla extended above the soil so that it can be filled with water periodically. The porous walls of the unglazed pottery allow the water to seep through gradually, constantly and consistently hydrating the plants without overwatering them – and without wasting precious water to evaporation or runoff.
The use of ollas for irrigation was introduced to the American Southwest by Spanish conquistadors during Colonial times, becoming very common among Native American tribes and Hispanic settlers. Though the technique gave way to more modern methods of irrigation some time ago, its superior efficiency, coupled with its simplicity, has caused it to make a comeback. Though the technique has changed little since its introduction, today’s ollas are usually capped off, making them even more water-efficient.
Perfect for home gardens, Ollas are a super-easy, eco-friendly, less time-consuming way to water annuals, perennials, herbs, vegetables and plants of all kinds in dry, sandy soil, very hot or drought-prone areas, raised beds, and even pots, planters and hanging baskets. Fill the olla before you leave on a short vacation to enjoy worry-free watering – and a smaller water bill!