Wintertime effectiveness for groundsmen

At a lot of grounds end of season renovations are underway although I’m sitting in my office at home typing this watching the rain come down preventing us carrying out renovations today.

The forecast will likely cancel this whole week as the forecasted rainfall amounts will make the soil surface too wet to work it properly.

It is vital that your surface is not too wet to work on as the weight of the scarifier can close up the grooves created and your seed bed will instantly disappear meaning germination success could be severely reduced. Trying to top dress and lute out loam on a wet surface becomes a mess so patience is always a virtue.  

At volunteer clubs this isn’t always easy to be flexible with your date of work as soil is delivered and people book days off or are at work during the week. But making sure your renovations are done properly is so important in ensuring you get pitches as you want them next year.

Get your soil covered up so it stays dry and postpone your works until you can get them done properly as there are plenty of weeks left to get them done. I always aim to get the last jobs done by mid October at the latest in case temperatures suddenly drop towards end of October/early November.

The team and I have already got a few squares scarified for local clubs and one of my own club squares fully renovated so far (photo below). We have a few more squares to scarify and then about 10 squares left to fully renovate including some Koro work recovering a square that hasn’t been used for about a decade, so next week onwards will be all hands to the pump.

Here's one I renovated earlier...

Here's one I renovated earlier...
©Jamie Foyster

As I said last month good scarification of your square is so important and I’ve been to a number of squares lately where they are reporting low bounce and after investigation of their surface finding thick thatch layers due to lack of scarification carried out in previous years.

...and one mid-scarification

...and one mid-scarification
©Jamie Foyster

So winter beckons and some questions and Mickey taking I get every year from my club mates and friends are “I suppose your six months off starts soon?” and “now your gardening is finished what you going to do?”.

Well last month I talked about the key winter activities you need to be doing to maintain your square and outfield and also your equipment being serviced and looked after.

This winter as well as checking and looking after my eight cricket squares I’ll be using the time to keep increasing my knowledge and also trying to help local clubs maintain their surfaces in both cricket and football.

I’m one of the Field Officers for The Essex Playing Fields Association and this involves visiting local sports clubs and advising them on how to rectify problems, maintain their facilities and also help them save money day to day.

I’ll be attending various seminars hosted by companies such as SISIS and Dennis and exhibitions like IOG Saltex in November and BIGGA in the New Year and hope to visit my seed supplier to see what goes into designing the seed mix and which cultivars are chosen for their best characteristics.

Also this winter I’m spending some time studying Soil and Grass Science and how they are changing with our ever changing climate in order to keep up with developments.

The great thing is you never stop learning with all the climate, machinery, loam, seed and feed developments so there is always plenty to keep up with as well as reminding your wife and children what you look like!

So get yourself along to as many seminars and exhibitions as you can as most of them are free and you also get to meet and talk to lots of your colleagues and fellow groundsman where you can share your pain, successes and frustrations with and discover that you are not alone in being grumpy now and then with batters trenches etc.!

Next month I’ll post some photos of end of season works and how the early renovated ones are looking and progressing.

Happy scarifying!

© Cricket World 2015