On our estate we've now got an active body of people that are campaigning to improve the estate and the facilities and they're aware of my activities in the paddock and may even be looking in on the blog for all I know. I know that during one of the preparation sessions over there in either Feb or May one of the local residents who is a part of the group asked me what I was up to and then said that she'd heard of me via the committee. There is talk that the Paddock is on there agenda and there may be money to improve the space. One of the things that they wanted to hear was the fact that the boys that are introduced to cricket in the paddock go on to then play cricket at school and at our local club. On that same theme, I've noticed this year at nets, that two more kids had joined the club via being introduced to cricket through the paddock and our cricketing activities in our street... 'Bob' Dylan Robinson and his little brother Keagan Robinson. Hopefully they'll be around for a long time and will become regular players and go on to play adult cricket!
In the meantime Joe and I definitely plan to have a knock about on the paddock and I would imagine that Ben will join us every now and then and therefore we need to get the strip in shape.
At the end of the season in late October the batting end was a mess, all the grass was worn away with very little in the way of any chance of new grass growing that well because of the shade from the trees and one particular wild rose bush that grew over and through the fence. I tried to flatten the surface and sewed a lot of seed, putting feed down as well and it did take quite well. Very early this year at the end of Feb I've sewn more seed and this has taken too.
Over winter we had a lot of rain in the UK and this was accompanied by wind and the big tree that you can see in the images above at the batting end lost some big branches. You can see in some of the images the branches at the end of the pitch.
This first set of image was shot on Feb 22nd after some seed was put down as I recall as well as some more nutrients.
The next series of images below were shot on March 8th and this is the first day that we'd got the roller out and given it a going over while it was still wet and soggy. You can see in the image below we'd moved the fallen branches, I'd also removed all the brambles and bushes that had started to grow up the fence on the left in the image below - as you can see these branches cast a long shadow across the grass.You can see here in this images the new growth of grass at the batting end, it's greener due to the nutrients that have been put down, without the nutrients the grass gets off to a good start and the goes yellow and much of it dies. The extra expense of the nutrients is well worth it and the growth is much thicker and doesn't die back.
Me and Joe putting our backs into rolling the wicket.
The first rolling completed.
The following weekend (Below) we had more good weather and more work was down - Joe and me again. The work was done over the weekend and we made a start on cutting back some of the bushes that grow through and over the fences. With the new growth grass going well we decided that we'd have the stumps right back against the fence this year meaning that the new growth grass would be in front of the popping crease zone and therefore not stood on this summer giving it a real chance to recover.
The grass got it's first cut and I raked out a lot of the remaining autumn leaves. More seed was put down in any patches left bare by the leaves and the area revealed as bare by the raking.
The seed was mixed in with sieved clay and some of the nutrient stuff (Bone meal and fish of some sort). This was then put in the patches and rolled lightly.
The following weekend we didn't do any more work on the grass and instead focused on getting more light onto the grass and cut back the last of the brambles on the south facing fence along the rode-side. The area of concern now was the fence behind Joe in this image above (Batting end). We'd already decided that the popping crease was going to be right up against the fence which is an area of grass that gets no light on at all for much of the day due to the over-hanging tree and bush to the left of Joe in this image. So the first week of April we cut that back taking the opportunity to maximise on the additional light provided by the loss of the big branches blown down over the winter.
This weekend and today 7th April - below... We've had rain and the prediction over the Easter break is for intermittent rain - ideal grass growing weather. So today, the really rough bit which we were going to designate as the popping crease area I decided we'd go for it and level it off and even get some seed down and see if we can get some growth going this summer because of the light that now gets on it.
So Saturday we mowed the grass extending the length of the wicket bit by bit and today we've rolled it again. In the rain we introduced some more clay and then seeded it using the same mix of clay and nutrients. So at the moment it looks like this...
So that's where we're at for the moment and it's coming together okay and looking quite promising. What we'll probably do is use a big rubber mat of the type used in play grounds to bat on so that the new grass is allowed to get growing. We'll have to see how it goes, but with the current weather hopefully by May we'll have a good new growth of grass where grass has never been able to grow before!