While I was driving around at work a few days ago, I noticed a sign in the yard of one house offering plastic barrels for $10. I don't know about you, but considering that most barrels seem to cost at least $40, I think that's a bargain. I had Shayne go pick one up along with some hardware, and over the next few days, we're going to build our first rain barrel.
Because I have no patience, I set up the barrel underneath our somewhat-defunct garage gutter. This gutter was a victim of last year's roof rebuilding project, and it never made it back in service. The gutter itself is mostly fine, but the downspout isn't attached. It's laying on the ground next to the garage and has since been damaged by me stepping on it. Numerous times. So... We have a gutter with a hole in one end. Not idea, but it works. Mostly.
I set the barrel underneath the gutter hole with it's 3" diameter cap open. During the afternoon, we got .46" of rain. It had probably already rained for a half hour before I set up the barrel (2 hrs of rain total), and once I did, it was only doing a mediocre job of cathing the water. Still, we "harvested" about 10-15 gallons of water from our garage roof. The catchment area for that side is about 200 square feet. According to my calculations, we could have gotten at least a full 55 gallons from that rainfall, but for a half-assed setup, I don't think we did too badly.
That barrel is right next to my new veggie garden (more on that later), and I plan to attach a soaker hose to the barrel to provide water to my little seedlings. I'd like another barrel by the porch roof, and that will catch some water from the house roof as well. Being a Foursquare, we don't have gutters on the main roof, but I think we can get plenty of water from our front and back porch roofs to water our flowers and veggies. Every little bit helps!