To garden successfully in rural Canterbury, you need water, lots of it. Moosey's Country Garden is lucky - we have a main county water race running right through the garden and an irrigation right to draw water from the race.
The Water Race
Depending on the season, we water the garden at night after midnight. We may put on 50 to 75 cubic metres of water in one night.
The Moosey Water Race
The water races are irrigation canals, built in the last quarter of the nineteenth century when it was difficult if not impossible to drill wells to a depth of 30 to 40 metres to get access to water for stock and people. The Canterbury Plains can be a very dry place in the summer.
There are however large snow fed rivers running through the plains from the mountains to the sea and in the late 1800s a network of open cut water races fed from the nearest river were constructed throughout the plains - they are still there and we have a major one running through our garden. It carries up to 0.5 cumec/500 liters per second/100 gallons per second which is actually equivalent to quite a large stream.
An 80 mm/3 inch pipe is laid through the bank of the water race and gravity feeds the pond at a rate of up to 2.8 litres per second.
Rusty the Dog By the Pond
A simple plastic gate valve with a lever and floats regulates the flow of water into the pond so it doesn't overflow.
The Water Pumps
From the pond, water is drawn by two pumps, a little one which is used for hand watering and the big pump which is used to run the fixed irrigation system.
The irrigation system consists of around 40 sprinklers. They are a mixture of pop up sprinklers in lawns and impact sprinklers on riser pipes and which covers most of the garden.
The big pump is also used to supply moveable irrigation equipment to water other parts of the property to keep crops growing in dry seasons and grass green for the sheep.
There is also a good supply of groundwater which we use for domestic purposes (cooking, washing etc.). Originally we didn't have a well of our own and shared one with neighbours, so the amount of water we could take was restricted. Then in the winter of 2004 we finally had our own well put in.
Watering the Garden