Not that long ago if you had a rain barrel you might be considered a granola-eating, cannabis-smoking hippie...now they retail at hardware stores for $150. Here is a tightwad alternative based on recycling discards. Many businesses throw into their dumpsters vast numbers of plastic buckets with handles, ranging from 4 gallon to 7 gallon capacity. Have a friend with a swimming pool maintenance business? Ask him or her to save for you the sturdy 5-7 gallon buckets the chlorine comes in. Approach the bakery and deli departments at your grocery stores and ask them to save for you the 4-5 gallon buckets that cake frosting, mayonnaise, hard boiled eggs and more come in...same goes if you know someone who works at a school cafeteria. Giving them surplus veggies from your garden, surplus fruit from your trees, or surplus eggs from your chickens makes it a nice, pleasant, fair-to-all barter. Everybody wins just by saving buckets from a landfill.
When rain approaches just line up your empty buckets along the eaves of your house. Here is a pic of a few outside my front door this morning after last night's wonderful rain...there are more outside the view here. Plus I have some lined up behind the house outside my bedroom. Sure they overflow, but a LOT of water is captured none the less to use in container gardens, to flush the toilet after you poop (I ALWAYS pee outdoors as it is a grand safe fertilizer), and to pour into birdbaths and watering cans.
Yesterday as the rain front approached I cleared out freeze killed annuals and weeds in a bed hugging the street and planted thousands of seeds of white sweet alyssum, Shirley Poppies, Dwarf Jewel Mix nasturtiums, and linaria. They should germinate quickly after that wonderful rain. And the water in these buckets out front will do wonders to sustain that bed once it begins to take off. A friend gave me a 20 lb. bag of soluble Bloom Booster fertilizer, so I will dissolve a couple of cups in one of the 7 gallon pool chlorine buckets, and use a high flow watering can to feed the whole new bed for even better growth.
I think you will be surprised at just how many buckets you can get just by putting the word out. John