Questions and Answers

Q. Why use Terracotta pots?

A. Unglazed Terracotta clay is a natural and porous material. The water seeps out of tiny holes or pores in the unglazed clay and the moisture is pulled through the soil to the roots of your thirsty plants using a process called soil moisture tension. This functions much the same way as osmosis, in that the water is trying to equalise to a certain level of moisture within the soil. This means your soil will never become overwatered either, if the soil is moist, the water stays in the pot until it is needed.

Q. Is everything supplied in my kit for me to get this system up and running?

A. All of the Cotta Pots, fittings, tubing, bucket/reservoir and connections to a water source and easy install instructions.

Q. What tools will I need to install the system?

A. We recommend some sharp scissors or secateurs for cutting the pipe, something to dig a small hole for the Cotta Pot (a trowel or we do sell augers for your battery drill if the soil is harder to dig) and a Phillips screwdriver to remove and replace the screw when purging the system of air.

Q. Do I need to dig the Cotta Cups into the soil?

A. Yes you will need to dig a hole approximately 80mm diameter by 200mm deep,
depending on your soil type this can be done by hand, a small trowel or with our auger and a battery drill.

Q. Can I install this Cotta Cup watering system if I've already planted my garden?

A. Yes. You might need to adjust our recommended placement of your Cotta Pots to give your established plants a little more room. Place the Cotta Cups approximately 10- 5 cm or so from the plant. Where you place your Cotta is a judgement call based on the size of your plant and roots. Also, our auger is helpful when installing in an existing garden. Use the auger slowly and be gentle on any roots you encounter.

Q. How many Cotta Pots are required per square metre?

A. We recommend 4 pots per square metre placing them approximately 400mm apart.
This can also depend on how loose or firm the soil is.

Q. How much pipe will I need?

A. The kits come with length of pipe relevant to the kit, so an 8 pot kit comes with 8m of pipe. You will generally use half of this pipe connecting your Cotta pots and the other half can be used for connecting the bucket if it is further away.

Q. Is there anything special I need to do filling the cups up for the first time?

A. Yes, you'll need to air purge the lines. Remove the screw at the top of the Cotta Pot from each cup and turn your water on at the reservoir. Water flowing from the screw hole indicates the cup is full. When all the cups are full screw the drainage screws back in.

Q. Will the connecting pipe be exposed?

A. We prefer to leave the pipe exposed as then there is less chance of cutting it when digging in the garden. You can bury the pipe if you prefer.

Q. What is the approximate radius of moisture around each pot?

A. The approximate radius of moisture is 20cm, we call this the plume. That radius will not all be equal, however, meaning it will be wetter closer to the pot and less the further that you move away. So for thirsty plants like zucchini, melons, tomatoes, etc. you would want to plant within 10cm of the cup, preferably right up against it.

Q. Is this system suited for deep rooted plants?

A. Yes they are. As the pots are 18 cm in height and the plume also goes down below, they are very suited to deep rooted plants.

Q. Does this Cotta Pot garden watering system work for row gardening?

A. Yes it does. To capitalise on the water plume the Cotta Pot creates, you'll want to base your row spacing around our Cotta Pots 40 cm diameter water plume.

Q. What if I plant seeds? Will I need to overhead water?

A. To directly sow seeds make sure they are planted within a 15 cm of your Cotta Cup in order to ensure they receive enough moisture for germination. We recommend overhead watering until the seeds have established their root system.

Q. How do you know your system uses 61% less water over drip lines?

A. Through extensive testing we have measured how much water our cups emit at 0.5 psi. We've compared this with drip emitters laid out identically and measured the water usage.

Q. How much water will this system use per week in my vegetable patch?

A. This does depend on a number of variables including, your soil mix, how wet the soil is and the outdoor temperature and how many Cotta pots you have. As a general rule of thumb if the top of the water level in the bucket is 350mm above the soil level that equals 0.5psi of pressure.
At this pressure 1 Cotta Cup will use 225ml in a 24 hour period (approximately a cup of water).
So a 4 Cotta Pot system (approximately a garden bed 1.0m long x1.0m wide) will use approximately 6.3 litres per week.

Q. What is the bucket for in the kits?

A. Your bucket/reservoir that's included in your kit reduces the high water pressure from your house system (running at approximately 60psi). The bucket, which has an included shut off float valve, will automatically fill the Cotta cups. You can connect the bucket to a hose, existing irrigation or hand fill the bucket. You may need extra fittings to connect to and existing irrigation system or your rain water barrel. The bucket then regulates the flow to .5 to 1.5psi depending on the height of the bucket. The float valve ensures that the bucket always has the correct level of water in it.

Q. Where do I put my bucket/reservoir?

A. Place your bucket/reservoir in your garden bed or anywhere around it. It can also be several meters away from form the bed - it just needs to be higher than the top of your Cotta Pot.

Q. How high do I put my bucket/reservoir?

A. The height of your bucket determines the pressure that the water seeps through the Cotta Cups. If the top of the water level in the bucket is 700mm above the top of the soil, this gives approximately 1psi of pressure (a normal tap pressure in the house is approximately 60 psi). We recommend running your system at 0.5psi so essentially having the bucket at or just above soil level. You can play around with the height till you come to the perfect supply of water that your plants need.

Q. Are there any other colour options for the bucket?

A. We only stock the light grey bucket - you can buy your own(square) bucket or paint the bucket to a colour of your choice.

Q. Could the bucket also be Terracotta?

A. Technically it could but it would be a costly exercise. It would need to be square to get a good seal to the fittings, holes would need to be drilled for the fittings and
terracotta is porous so it would need to be glazed or sealed.

Q. What size are the Cotta Cups?

A. The cups are just under 7.5cm in diameter and 18cm in height. The internal capacity is 425ml fluid volume, but that capacity is supplemented by the much larger reservoir the cup system is fed from.

Q. What size is the bucket?

A. The bucket is an 18 litre bucket, it is a light grey with the Thirsty Earth logo on it, measures 380mm ht x 270mm square.

Q. What if something breaks in my watering system? Are the parts under warranty?

A. Your Thirsty Earth Watering System comes with a 100% Money-Back Guarantee. Our intention is you're blown away at how easy it is to grow healthy plants while using a fraction of the water. But if you don't feel we've delivered on our promise to help you grow a healthy garden, using 61% less water, submit your refund request within 30 days of purchase, mail back your kit, and we'll promptly refund your fees (minus your shipping costs).

Q. Will this work for my nonstandard bed layout such as a keyhole bed or similar?

A. Yes, absolutely. We're working on guides for a variety of different bed types now.
Contact us for a custom layout.

Q. Do the pots need to be removed at the end of the growing season?

A. The pots need to be removed at the end of the growing season if you live in a climate with hard winter freezes. We've tested them down to minus 3 for a week without failure but recommend removal for maximum longevity. If you opt to leave them in, make sure to turn the water off 2-3 weeks before things freeze to allow the cups time to drain themselves empty.

Q. How many cups can be linked together?

A. 100 cups on 30m on ¼ inch line before you'll want to step up to 1/2" tubing or use another reservoir. It also depends on the size of your reservoir and how often you want to fill it. In an auto-fill reservoir with constant water feed, it would never be the bottleneck. An auto-fill reservoir on a timer filling once per day can handle up to 30 cups at the 0.5 psi recommended pressures. The 9 litre or 18 litre hand fill reservoir can handle 6-11 cups for 1 weeks time or 75 cups for a 24 hour period.

Q. What if the tube has to run down, then back up for example between two garden
boxes fed from one reservoir?

A. That's totally doable but your reservoir will need to be higher than the highest point of the tube.

Q. What if I have terraces?

A. You'll want to run an auto-fill reservoir at each terrace level and chain the reservoirs together for consistent pressure.

Q. I live in a very hot environment that regularly gets over 35 degrees in the summer.
What should I do to ensure my plants have enough water?

A. Ensure your soil mix has a high compost composition and spread at least 100mm of mulch to help avoid any evaporation from the soil.
Then, you've got two Thirsty Earth specific options here - higher pressure or higher cup density.
Higher pressure can be achieved by elevating the reservoir (on timber or pavers) to be 30-60cm above the soil level, raising your pressure from 0.5 psi to 1 psi or even a little above.
For higher cup density, move the Cotta pots closer together so 30mm apart instead of 40mm apart. Either, or both, will ensure your plants get that extra little bit of water to help them beat the heat.

Q. What are some possible problems you've seen with the cups?

A. If a person tries to run them off of straight hose pressure instead of using a reservoir, they're not designed for that and it creates a gushing leak. Other common issues might be the push-to-connect fitting isn't pushed on to where it's fully seated, or the screw cap isn't tightened enough, or the cups haven't been air purged yet and need to be. They're all pretty easy fixes.

Q. What if I just want to run them off a hose directly without a reservoir?

A. You will be feeding the cups between 40 - 80 psi when they are designed to work from 0 - 3 psi. Direct hose pressure will create gushing leaks and all sorts of problems.
Use a reservoir as intended.

Q. What if I just want to run them off a hose directly without a reservoir?

A. You will be feeding the cups between 40 - 80 psi when they are designed to work from 0 - 3 psi. Direct hose pressure will create gushing leaks and all sorts of problems.
Use a reservoir as intended.

Q. Approximately how many growing seasons will they last?

A. As far as growing seasons, we haven't worn any to the point of failure yet in the
couple of years we've been using them. The longevity is basically how long plastic and terra cotta take to break down. With a little bit of care that should be many, many years.

Q. Will hard water affect the pots over time?

A. We haven't had that experience yet, but if you have hard water and are worried about it you might consider using a filter or applying the maintenance techniques used for drip systems when dealing with hard water.

Have more questions? Give us a call 027 264 2296, Monday through Friday 9am - 5pm