Alright, you’ve buried your Oya up to the neck in the middle of your planting area. Nice work. Now you’re ready to get planting.
Like most things in nature, Oyas don’t have hard edges or corners–they are beautifully round.
That means you should plant around your Oya in a circular configuration to make the most of the Oya’s watering abilities. Think concentric circles instead of uniform rows.
The basic rule of thumb when planting around your Oyas is to plant your thirsty drinkers to the center or closer to the Oya and the lighter-drinking, more drought-tolerant plants to the outside. Also, longer, more creeping root systems are more able to travel through the soil to reach the water in the Oya, while the smaller rooted plants need to be closer to reach and get what they need. Because of the watering efficiencies of Oyas in raised beds and containers, inter-cropping and growing up (trellis) is encouraged and can provide a big success rate.
Once you’re all planted up and feeling good about your configuration, you can fill your Oya to the top with water and also surface water your garden for 1-2 weeks. This allows the roots of your plants to get established and start their journey toward the Oya water source. Depending on the conditions, seeds or young transplants planted near your Oya may require more surface watering to get their roots started.
Once the roots are established, just fill your Oyas once every 2-7 days and watch things grow easy with far less water. Though your Oya will certainly catch some water when it rains, it will not keep it filled. As always, keep an eye out for signs of dehydration (wilting, browning, etc.) and add supplemental watering to your plants as needed. Your Oya is drastically reducing the water used in your garden, but in harsh conditions you’re still wise to keep an eye on how thing are growing.
Feel free to use your favorite garden planning tool to map out your configuration plans. Just remember to think in concentric circles instead of rows.