May time at the County Ground
By Wayne Lumbard
Here at Shrewsbury, we have now started on a full fixture list of games. Each day consists of preparing wickets and repairing wickets from the previous night's game. We average 5 games per week so are kept very busy. The rest of the square is now being mowed at 12mm from May onwards 1- 2 times a week depending on growth etc. Next week I will be applying a liquid feed of Vitax 50/50 to the squares. I have waited until now because of the amount of grass growth we had in April. In fact, we had too much grass on the squares, and feeding would only have enhanced this. Now the growth has evened out the Vitax feed will keep the squares in top condition.
I am continuing to verticut the square on a fortnightly basis, with extra verti-cutting during wicket preparation. The square is now sorrel rolled during wicket repairs, and we apply a bio-stimulant and a selective weed killer at the same time using a walkover sprayer.
In between rolling wickets, we will continue this month to roll the whole of the square, to make the most of the moisture content in the soil. It may become too dry in June. The boundary lines and 10yd run up lines get over marked each week with white marking paint.
We have had a few cancellations due to the weather. With no covers any rain ends makes the wickets difficult, and sometimes, impossible to play on. We have to manage this problem very carefully, playing in the wrong conditions can cause excessive damage for the games the rest of the week. It is very much a lottery on occasions but, gratefully, the final decision is left to me as to whether games are played or not.
With the amount of rainfall we have had the bounce is low but consistent. To me, the consistency is the most important thing; the pace and the bounce will come when the ground starts to dry out.
On the outfield we continue to mow twice a week to 15-18mm using our trailed Dennis mower, making sure the mowing is precise for presentation. This month we selective weed kill and liquid feed the outfields, again at the same time. We have a contractor to do the work and by combining them he only has to go over the surface once.
Twice a week we walk the outfield filling in any scars/divots or marks to the surface of any kind. We have an F.A. Mini Soccer Tournament coming up in June, so we have just reseeded the goalmouths of our pitches on the outfield in readiness for this event. Also, we paint the corner markings of all the boxes etc.; it helps with stringing out closer to the date. Hopefully, we will have time to use our Kubota Rotary to cut and collect any surface debris, and also to cut off any "bents" that may not have been removed cleanly by the cylinder mower.
All other parts of the ground we try to keep in the same good order, shrub beds, trees, tarmac areas, hedges, tree bases etc., so the rest of the facility reflects the squares and the outfield and visa versa. Customers, public and vistors only remember what doesn't look right. First impressions are everything.
Keep up the good work and make the most of the sunny days when they happen.