Commonly today referred to as the “Oya”, the traditional “Olla” or “Aulla”, an unglazed ceramic jar with a wide body and narrow neck, dates back to ancient Rome, where it was originally used for cooking and storage, and as a funeral urn. As Roman culture spread across Europe and co-mingled with other cultures, in Celtic Gaul the “Olla” found common usage in agriculture, and became a symbol of Sucellus, the God of agriculture. In later years “Ollas” found popular use as the required vessel for the preparation of localized foods in Spain and Catalonia.
Similar vessels became popular in the American southwest, and while they could have been introduced to the region by Spanish settlers it is more likely that Native American contemporaneously developed them on their own. In the New World they were used for storing water, cooking and serving, as well as for other uses.
But the primary use of the “Olla” was is irrigation, primarily among the Spanish and then Native Americans. As water slowly seeped through the unglazed ceramic walls of the Olla”, its use in agriculture become obvious, and widely used. “Ollas” would be buried in the earth with the necks sticking out above ground. Fruits and vegetables would be planted around the “Ollas”, and the “Ollas” were then filled with water. The slow seepage of water to the roots of the plants made for effective and efficient growth, with little waste through spillage or evaporation.
With today’s climate crisis and pervasive drought conditions, the use of the “Olla” is a water-saving and cost-saving effective way to garden for virtually anyone with a little plot of land where they wish to grow vegetables, fruit or decorative, flowering plants. Continue reading
The U.S. Drought Monitor, established in 1999, is a composite index that includes many weather and drought indicators and it produces the drought map that policymakers and media use in discussions of drought and in allocating drought relief. It is jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Maps courtesy of NDMC-UNL.
Here is their most current map of drought conditions in the United States, released April 20, 2017 (Click map to enlarge).
One can easily see many areas of continuing drought throughout the country, including areas of severe and extreme drought.
The U.S. Drought Monitor has five definitions of drought severity: Continue reading
With global climate change having devastating effects on weather conditions throughout the world, one of the most significant ongoing results has been widespread drought conditions throughout many areas of the United States. In California, we are in year four of the worst drought in the state’s recorded history, resulting in unprecedented restrictions on water usage and a plethora of projects designed to conserve, protect and transport the state’s limited water resources. With the impending El Nino conditions about to reach the US, contrary to popular belief, much of the affected areas will suffer worsening drought conditions, as at the same time some areas will receive significant and needed, but short-lived, rainfall. While parts of California, for example, will likely receive substantial rainfall, parts of the state, much of the Pacific Northwest, the Rocky Mountain region, the Great Lakes area and the Ohio Valley, will all see worsening rather than improving drought conditions. Continue reading