Collecting Rain Water
If you do a lot of gardening, it might make sense to try collecting rain water to water your plants and minimize the amount of water you use from the tap. With a little ingenuity, you can collect rain water for watering your plants in any container that will hold water. The only major criteria is that your container has a mesh screen on top to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes.
In the simplest set-up, a rain barrel with an open top is placed underneath a gutter downspout, catching rainwater runoff from the roof. Commercial containers typically hold about 50 to 80 gallons of water and many come pre-equipped with a valve that allows for easy hose attachment.
Natural rain water is not processed like the water that comes out of the tap. It doesn't contain the minerals found in wells or the chlorine in municipal supplies, so it is ideal for watering the lawn, washing the car, doing the laundry, and even taking a shower.
If you want to get technical, surf over to the Center for Watershed Protection (www.cwp.org) and search for rain barrel for instructions on building and installing a rain barrel using a 55-gallon drum. For the premade variety, browse your local garden supply store, or try Clean Air Gardening (www.cleanairgardening.com).