May, And It's All Systems Go For Club Groundsmen
As I write, it's a Bank Holiday weekend Sunday so naturally it has rained today!
As I reflect on the last few weeks and look to priorities over the May weeks I can take some comfort in that the spring/summer fertiliser applied last week is being washed in and the previously dry surface being aided by sprinklers has had a naturally nutrient rich top up.
It's important not to let the square dry out too much as getting water in to depth when preparing your pitches, especially for volunteers who are limited on time will become very difficult to do properly before rolling starts.
League matches have started on most grounds with the Essex League starting this coming weekend. Colts matches are beginning too which means shortened pitches on the end of squares or using specific colts only pitches or even sharing full length senior pitches so having an outline pitch plan is important.
I say "outline" as my plan at some grounds changes pretty much every week as extra games are put in at short notice or teams progress to next stages of cups.
Next week I'll be renovating the first pitches used for friendlies so that they become reusable later in the season. Watering to depth to rejuvenate the remaining grass and repairing footholes to being level and reseeding using germination sheets if you have them and where you have 3/4 days without matches which allows their use of course.
Once again a good guide to repairing a pitch is provided by Chris Wood here:
Try not to overuse the first few pitches on the square so that it gives you maximum opportunity to revive them for later in the season. Volunteers with limited time or poor water pressure not strong enough for sprinklers need this opportunity most, especially if the weather stays warm and dry for an extended period.
The temperatures and rain are giving us the April/May whoosh of growth so keep your squares cut regularly and not too short so not to stress the plant and also thicken the sward.
Batting trenches are still persisting at some grounds and I've seen some of my colleagues are now putting up photos in changing rooms showing poorly respected pitches alongside respected ones to highlight how unnecessary and unsightly it is to dig holes for batting guards not to mention extending the life of that pitch, which is often important at volunteer clubs or clubs with smaller sized squares.
If your club's budget allow make sure you have spares for your equipment such as: starting recoil cord, drive chain or belt, spark plugs. Ensure the filter is regularly cleaned, oil level checked, chains lubricated regularly using engine oil, nipples greased and cylinder set to the bottom blade properly.
Verticutting continues to be an important action to remove lateral growth but don't overdo it especially in very dry conditions.
Later this month my outfields will be sprayed for weed by my local Complete Weed Control contractor Rod Thompson. I spray my squares myself under PA1/6 but due to time restraints and the increasing risk factors in big open public spaces I prefer to use a professional to do them now. The weeds will be fully active by late May so an ideal time to get rid of them for the season.
Looking at the forecast it seems there might be thunderstorms tomorrow so the joys of our British weather and cricket groundsmanship continue!
Have a great month.
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