Devonshire Park (12/05/02)
This last week we have concentrated our efforts on weed control. I generally don't like to use herbicides, but having spent the last couple of years doing spot treatments, we felt we had no choice but to offer the more pragmatic approach.
The courts have suffered particularly with the spread of white clover, so with conditions being, as near perfect for spraying last Monday as I have known, we applied our selective weed killer.
We had allowed the clover a few days to grow prior to the herbicide application so there was plenty of leaf. Following the spray we again refrained from cutting until Friday, so as to give the chemicals plenty of time to work. It looks to have done the job, as the clover is already well on the turn.
Andy and I currently have six of our courts in play for members and general public.
This week, if the weather isn't too bad we will be starting to verticut all of our courts and also apply some of Headland's liquid feed. We have preferred the use of liquids to granules for the last three or four years now as I find them more flexible in their application. On the given day it is easy for us to raise or lower the amount used, depending on soil plant and weather conditions.
The fertiliser that we use is a slow release feed which gives the plant an initial 30% shot of urea to colour it up, the rest being taken up by the plant over a longer period of time. We like to trickle feed the courts on a monthly basis, so as to keep the plant healthy and the diseases at bay.
We have had such a dry spring, with only two maybe three millimetres of rain-a really insignificant amount! This is really bad news for us as it means that there is a deficit of soil moisture as we come into the season, a season you expect to be dry. There are already a few areas on the courts developing dry patch and we are addressing these problem areas. So we (Not the tennis players) are hoping for a wet May to build up our water reserves.
We are cutting our courts at seven and a half millimetres, we usually maintain this height of cut throughout the season and although we have only been topping the grass twice a week until now, we will start to cut the courts more frequently from now on.
The mowing is interspersed with weekly verti-cutting, we try and double cut each court with the verticutters weekly, so that the grasses grow up straight and we can maintain a nice cut with the cylinders.
Our other courts are not going to come into use until the tournaments start in June. The stands will be put up following the Jubilee weekend on the 5th June and we will start working more intensively on these courts preparing them for the Ladies Championship.
I shall give you an update closer to the tournament season, as to the changes and increase in working procedures.Good luck to all of you.