We have always tried to conserve water as much as possible, but last December, when we actually had some rainstorms, we bought this 50 gallon rainwater cistern to collect water for our plants. It has a metal filtered opening on half of the top, that allows water to pour in, but filters out leaves and other debris. On the other part of the top is an area where a potted plant can be placed.
I love the giant urn shape of this cistern, and from a distance it looks like it is made of stone. The cistern came with 2 faucets to attach to it, one onto which a garden hose can be attached.
It can also be hooked up to a drainpipe that leads down from roof gutters to collect rainwater.
We set the cistern on an old, low coffee table so that the faucets are raised from the ground. Oh, and why is there some kind of string tied around the neck of the cistern? Well, it's a temporary solution to keep the urn from tipping over when we get those strong winds.
Unfortunately, as everyone in California knows, we only got a couple of rainstorms after the December storms, so our cistern doesn't have 50 gallons of water in it. It's only about 1/3 full. But every drop counts, right?
Otherwise, for watering the container plants we save the water we used to wash produce (we put water in a large stainless steel mixing bowl to rinse the produce); that was used to boil pasta (we don't salt the water to cook pasta); left over from steaming vegetables; that was used to boil eggs, and leftover tea (plain, no sugar, lemon or milk in it) and black coffee.
We water the garden once a month if there is no rain at all. The native plants basically don't need water at all, or very little. For example the ceanothus shrub in my last post never is watered.
For more water conservation tips check out these sites: