With average annual rainfall here of less than 11 inches, it pays to make the most of every drop. Start by redirecting water from gutters routed into storm drains to empty into the garden instead. A simple swale – a depression lined with gravel – also can collect runoff so it can percolate into the ground. Rain barrels too offer simple storage; most fill up remarkably fast, so install more than one if possible. The Water Conservation Garden on the campus of Cuyamaca College in El Cajon has a good exhibit of a working rain barrel system. A good time to visit is during the Fall Gardening Festival this month. Details are at www.thegarden.org.