June - Indifferent weather signals start of summer
Well we are well into the season now with league games well underway and colts matches all over the place.
So last week summer officially started which brought the usual indifferent weather of thunderstorms, hail, rain and winds that blew covers across the ground! Is it me or is there a self timer for the rain to arrive on a Friday the day before your important league matches?
All that being said I’m in a very dry desert like Essex at the moment and every day we are watering to keep the grass as healthy as possible and more importantly not to let the square’s soil profile dry out completely.
Keeping the surface of your next pitches permeable is also important as otherwise you will find it is like watering the car park when you come to wet the pitch down before rolling commences.
I know others around the country will have opposite issues so they will be covering pitches so they don’t get too wet during their preparation. Volunteers with limited time especially need to find best practices to obtain the best surface in extreme wet or dry conditions. Watering a pitch then flat sheeting it overnight to allow the moisture to penetrate to depth is a good one.
Low water pressure is another common issue for village clubs out of town which commonly results in sprinklers not being able to be used. A good solution to this is a Reguflow flat hose attached to a normal hose and capped off at the end. A 30metre length with fittings is only around £60 all in so a very inexpensive solution. It can be put up the middle of a pitch and left to soak it while you can get other jobs done which saves volunteers valuable time.
If like me you’re in very dry conditions then leave the verticutter in the shed while the plant is suffering enough stress without you ripping the guts out of it.
Wait until a good amount of rain/water and your grass is healthy enough to withstand the blades going through them. Leaving an extra mm or two on your squares height of cut can help wear and tear as well.
Water your feed well in the absence of rain so that it gets into the soil and roots rather than flying straight into your mower box and wasting money.
Liquid feed in addition to granular is a good fast acting solution to green up your grass and keep up appearances. It can applied easily by a knapsack sprayer but make sure you have the correct nozzles fitted and working consistently.
Also make sure you have thoroughly washed out your sprayer if other products have been used previously, especially roundup!
Pitch recovery is proving challenging in the dry conditions and also pigeons eating the seed are rife! So out will come the germination sheets on the ends to keep the blighters off and also get the grass up within a week before the following league game.
Most clubs by now will be bearing the fruits of their ECB “Get The Game On” Small Grants to purchase covers. This for me has been far and away the best use of ECB funding so far and the clubs only having to find 10% of the total cost is fantastic. That cost can easily be recouped by saving one Saturday game, match fees, bar takings etc.
Last observation and advice this month is to those of you who have had new pitches installed, maybe on the edge of your square or to replace an artificial pitch with a turf one. The aftercare of the new pitch is just as important as the installation of it. If the pitch was laid last autumn then middle of this season while in dry conditions your new pitch will be contracting and may open up large cracks.
These cracks need to be filled with fresh loam. Cut the new pitch right down to playing length so that all the cracks are clearly visible then fill the cracks by pushing the loam down them until filled to the top.
The photo to the right shows a square I visited today which is over four years old and no aftercare was carried out by the contractor. The cracks are so large you can fit your whole hand down them and the playing surface is not great as you can probably imagine.
If in doubt speak to your ECB County Pitch Advisor who will guide you through the process.
Hope your seasons are going well and my June jottings are helpful to you.
See you in July!
© Cricket World 2015