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DCL

Conserving water is an important aspect of growing a "green" garden. The fewer resources we have to use, the better. And since water is an important part of most gardens (and also the most egregiously wasted -- it drives me crazy to watch people put their sprinklers on and let the water all run down their driveway!) it's a good idea to try to find alternative ways of watering than solely depending on tap water. Here are five that I've used for my own garden.

1. Rain Barrel

This is kind of a no-brainer, but I know that many people don't have them because ready-made rain barrels can be pretty pricey. Luckily, there are very good instructions online for making your own, inexpensively:

- MAKE: Magazine has instructions for not only making a single barrel, but also for linking two or more together.

- Instructables shows how to make your own rain barrel with standard hardware store parts.

- Here are instructions from the city of Raleigh, NC for how to make a rain barrel from a plastic trash can.

2. Buckets Under Downspouts and Eaves

This is a good option for those who don't want to go all out with a rain barrel, or who, for one reason or another, can't have one where they live. If you're an apartment dweller with a balcony or patio -- you can use this tip, too. Simply set five gallon buckets or whichever watering cans you have under your downspouts, at the edges of roof eaves or overhangs, or just out in the open to collect the rain water. You won't get as much as you would with a rain barrel, but some is better than none, right?

3. Kid-Size Swimming Pool

If you have kids and find yourself filling up a little pool for them to splash around in during hot weather, don't just let that water flow out onto the lawn when you empty the pool! Use buckets or watering cans to get the water out, and use the water for your garden instead. Even if you don't have kids, a small kid's pool is another excellent way to capture rainwater as described in #2, above. 4. Buckets in the Shower One of the easiest ways to capture water that would otherwise be wasted is to take a shower with a bucket or two. You'll be surprised by how quickly the buckets fill (even if you do take short showers) and you can use the water for your houseplants or garden. 5. Cooking Water If you've boiled a bunch of vegetables or pasta, don't just pour that water down the drain when you're done with it! Let it cool completely, then use it to water plants in your garden. It's perfectly safe for them, and actually contains a bit of nutrition for your plants, especially if you've boiled vegetables. These are just a few ways to gather otherwise "wasted" water and put it to use in your garden instead.