Talbot turf who installed the turf came back to commence a final 'snagging' of the surface. This included Talbots going over the surface looking for any inconsistencies and then ourselves walking over the surface.
Pedestrian dragbrushing and backpack blowing continued from our lads as the importance of standing the grass up as much as we could was heightened. Blowing the surface is a task that is probably slightly underused in some places although all it gives are positives such as, standing the grass back up and air flow.
27th November 2012
Today brought the first cut of the surface with the rotary mowers. The rotary mowers are a great tool to have as they are basically used as a vacuum to give the grass a clip, stand the grass up, also taking up and debris or matter from the surface.
The artificial surface around the edges of the pitch began to be put in place, beginning with the East Stand side. It will be very useful having this around the perimeter of the pitch as it aids us working around the pitch and also access.
To finish the day, we overseeded the pitch. As the great ex Head Groundsman Keith Boyce stated "it won't grow in bags". That is a mantra we follow and if we can get any sort of germination rate, it will be a bonus.
The main system for the undersoil heating got dropped off with us. We quickly need to assess it and understand it the best we can.
28th November 2012
The artificial 3G continued to be laid by the CRL lads around the perimeter.
With new turf everybody has to remember it is a living thing. It has been harvested, rolled up, transported halfway across the country in a lorry, taken off, laid on the pitch then expected to grow so as you can imagine it will be feeling quite sorry for itself, especially at this time of year. As such we took the step today of applying a fungicide and a liquid fertiliser. This will help prevent disease aswell as give it a bit of a feed.
29th November 2012
Today was a momentous day in the history of the stadium and pitch. We turned the brand new undersoil heating on for the first time. Ken Pryor was on hand to deal with any little problems that might crop up with ourselves but thankfully everything worked well. Having the option of the undersoil heating now gives us a massive tool in guaranteeing games going ahead rather than relying on frost sheets.
30th November 2012
First job was to take all the readings after the first night of the undersoil heating being on. With the system and everything checked we then move to the pitch readings such as soil temperature and soil moisture.
In any sort of sports turf or even your garden at home it is hazardous to walk on grass if it is frosty. If you do it breaks the leaf and causes it to black mark.
We finished off the day with a dragbrush of the surface. Just to stand the grass back up and create airflow.
1st December 2012
Undersoil heating and pitch checks were the order of the day. I am beginning to feel like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man with all the numbers in my head.
3rd December 2012
With this being a new surface we are firming up the surface aswell as gaining the correct level from the turf. With this in mind we take the mowers for the first time onto the pitch. It is beneficial with a new surface to go every direction possible when you are completing tasks as not to create any hollows or marks. It looked well after its first roll and no significant bumps were found, which is testament to the companies involved.
4th December 2012
The fat burner of pedestrian dragbrushes was yet again put into motion to stand the grass back up.
The mowers were out again as the pitch was cut for the first time. It was visible that the pitch needed a clip as it was starting discolour slightly and so were the heads of the grass. A first for us also is that we cut the pitch diagonally to aid the thickening of the sward and aiding with the levels.
5th December 2012
The heavy roller was called into action to help any slight bumps on the surface disappear while the surface was moist.
The surface now as I have said before will drain immensely fast. This is called the perculation rate. At the moment we are using a moisture meter to measure how much moisture we have at present in the surface and gauge how quickly everything is moving through the profile.
6th December 2012
Today Jason, Lewis, Daniel and I attended the Annual IOG Conference at York Racecourse. It is a day with speakers talking about every aspect of groundsmanship. As I am involved with the IOG Young Board of directors, this year we had a section to show what we had been up to over the course of the past year in making young people aware of this profession. This was done by the medium of video and a presentation delivered by one the chairman, John Ledwidge.
On the night it is the annual IOG awards. We were down the last two in the professional sports ground team of the year category with Tottenham Hotspur. Unfortunately we came runner up but it's fantastic to be nominated and congratulate Darren Baldwin and the Tottenham lads including my mate Nick Philips in winning it. It just shows how far we have come as a club and as a grounds team.
7th December 2012
Snagging of any outstanding jobs carried on as well as taking the readings from the pitch and undersoil heating system.
10th December 2012
Another first for the pitch as a Granular feed was applied for the first time. We have a fantastic relationship with Everris and have setup a feeding programme with them. This was applied by Jason who after he was finished was just about ready for a full reconstruction himself.
With so much going on at the stadium, the training ground must also be maintained. Today the first team pitches got a divot and a rotary cut which as I have said before, removes much of the debris from the surface, while also leaving a fantastic finish.
The fences that have blocked off the pitch from the start of the project were removed today and as such the pitch looked just a little bigger.
11th December 2012
Rob Green from Lely arrived to help us complete the installation of our irrigation system. We are having a full brand new system connected up to our office aswell as personally. Having a tool such as this in the climate we are now in is paramount, as it gives us the flexibility to water on demand rather than the old system which took us 30 minutes to set up. John Bowes from Ocmis is on hand to lend his individual knowledge to the situation.
With fertiliser being applied I familiarised myself with the Irrigation System, as I manually set each head off on a cycle to help 'water in' the granular feed. This aided my hands in feeling like they were going to fall off.
12th December 2012
John and Rob continued to install the irrigation system in the office and pitchside. This included John Bowes sporting a very fetching hat. Within the pitch we have had two sensors put below the surface to give us a reading of soil moisture, temperature and salinity. One South stand side and one North side as the two sides usually differ by 2°Cdue to the shade.
With the temperatures getting down to -2.8 last night all the grass pitches are frozen. As such the lads are put to work in tidying and cleaning the stores.