Your square isn't asleep...so nor should you be
A common misconception by some cricket groundsmen or volunteers is that once the end of season renovations are carried out, their square is put to bed and that is it until the New Year.
I was at a seminar last March when one groundsman told me he hadn’t been to the ground since the previous November and didn’t even know how it looked after the winter. Then no surprise his square didn’t a) perform as he wanted it to or b) looked as good as it should for the league level they are in. So neglect your square during the winter months at your peril!
It’s now a few weeks since my squares renovations were completed and it has generally been fairly dry so a few of the ends still have a bit of growing to do before I give them their first cut with the rotary mower.
Braintree CC square after its first cut, feed and spray
I usually wait until all the ends have full grown and filled in up to about an inch and a half long before cutting the square with my rotary mower which has had its blade sharpened before use to ensure a good clean cut.
I’ll then give the square its first feed with an Autumn/Winter 5-5-10+5Fe which usually lasts until around end of November and also spray it for worm control to keep the casts at bay. The spray will usually last until January depending on the weather and how much rain falls.
Please ensure you have PA1/6 so that you are legally allowed to apply pesticides as the Grandfather rights are now expiring and all suppliers of pesticide products are checking to ensure that people buying products from them have the necessary certification. I actually received my letter confirming mine from Sherriff Amenity today.
It is a good time to take your machinery in for servicing to ensure you get them back well before needing them again.
I took all my mowers and scarifier in today and I’ll get them back in a few weeks looking like new and ready for the new year. If you leave it until January or later you can caught up amongst all the other clubs leaving it late and you might not get them back when you need to start using them.
Do not skimp on servicing your machines. The time you do will be the time you get halfway through the season and something breaks or goes wrong and you’ll wish you’d had the machine properly serviced.
Ensure your machine has an oil and filter change, new spark plug, bottom blade and regrind of the cylinder along with checking and lubricating the chains, greasing all the nipples and checking the controls and cables as a minimum.
Also don’t forget your roller! Most servicing companies will come out to your club and perform a service. At my own club I service the roller myself as it is an old Aveling Barford GAY made in about 1968 and it is very straightforward to service with just oil filter, grease nipples and oil change being the main items.
I am lucky that it has had electric start put on it as most of these models I see out and about are still crank handle start which gives you popeye arms!
Don’t neglect your roller!
Remember your square is a living breathing thing so it will soon tell you if it needs something. It will lose colour if it needs feeding. It will show signs of disease if it needs treating (will cover this next month), worm casts will start showing in numbers if your spray is wearing off.
So keep a regular eye on your square ensuring debris is swept off or vacuumed up using a rotary mower and you will easily stay on top of what it needs.
Have you booked in or planned aeration for your square? See my previous articles on the options available and benefits.
Keep your outfield cut while the grass is still actively growing and at the moment I am still cutting about once a week with the temperatures staying up and the occasional rain shower perking it up.
Renovations on all my squares are completed and the first cuts, feeds and sprays carried out on ones that are ready for it. So I’m now going away for my end-of-season holiday as I’ve been even days a week since March so time to find some sunshine and warmth and recharge the batteries before returning to the cold damp grey miserable UK and continue the maintenance of the squares and outfields to ensure that come the spring they are as I want them to be.
See you next month and happy cutting.
© Cricket World 2015