And so to bed! Well that is what has been happening to the square this week.
On Sunday morning a team of around a dozen (mainly the usual faces) fenced off the square and took the sight screens apart, putting the screens in the garage for protection over the winter. Removing them from the top of the frame is always a challenge and something that we need to find a safer way of doing next year.
A couple of hours and the job was done.
The contractors were booked for Thursday so on Monday morning the square was cut as low as possible, in both directions. This really helps with the scarifying and top dressing. A lot of grass came off.
The markers for the pitches needed to come out and the post hole covers for the practice nets removed. These fit rather too tightly in the sockets and when they get wet the wood expands making it difficult to remove them. Fortunately on this occasion they all came out without leaving the wooden 'stems' in the sockets.
This year I thought that I would spike the square before the topsoil was applied in the hope that some of the loam would drop into the holes rather than just lying on top. I was surprised how hard the square was in places as the tines barely went into the ground.
To be honest I am not sure how successful this was, but at least I tried something different.
Today the contractors were there early: 8 am not 8.30 am. Better early than late. Firstly the square was scarified (small tractor driven), then fertilized, seeded and finally 3 tons of Ongar loam applied. I thought they had stopped using Ongar and were going to use Super Essex, but apparently they had received a supply of Ongar. I have always been pleased with it so I had no concerns about using it. After 3 hours the job was done.
With rain predicted for Saturday morning there will be no need to get the sprinkler on to germinate the seed.
Whilst the contractors did their work I stored away 10 bags of the loam for repairing pitches next year and took the clock down so that it is not damaged by footballs.
For the next month or so there is little work that can be done on the square so it is time for a holiday. When I am back it will be time to start spiking the square as frequently as possible.
'A Year in the Life of an Amateur Cricket Groundsman' will soon be over, but I reckon that there will be at least one more post!