About us

Campus Crops is a student run urban gardening initiative at McGill University's downtown campus. We want to grow food on campus, by students, for students. We have been running garden behind the School of Environment building at 3534 University since 2007. In 2009 we started a terrace garden behind the James Administration building. We're really excited to keep improving these two spaces, and need lots of helping hands for the summer ahead! Get in touch and get gardening!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Knotweed knotweed knotweed knotweed knotweed

Yes, we have a knotweed problem in the garden.

Yes, we were getting been a bit obsessed and freaked-out by it.

Yes, we spent time talking to all the happy McGill peoples about getting rid of it.

Fighting knotweed the WWI way

And yes, they recently gave us the go ahead to take care of it.

Finally, now we can get down to business. But how do deal with this knotweed.

Some people inject organophosphate herbicides to stop their knotweed, but this practice is polluting, short-sighted, and goes against our permaculture philosophies. There are also no guarantees that this dumb way of controlling knotweed will even be successful.

We looked for sustainable way of controlling the plant, searching on ze internets for guidance as well as consulting our own invasive species specialists at the McGill School of Environment for advice. The consensus among these numerous sources (be they governmental, university, non-profit, our School of Environment, and everyone else in between) of how to "control" and get rid of knotweed is in summary:
  1. Pull: Pull as much of the stems out as we can over the season, which we painfully did.
  2. Trench: Dig a trench deep trench beyond the perimeter of the knotweed patch to be sure the roots and rhizomes do not spread.
  3. Cover: Cover the entire patch with some thick material with high tensile strength to suffocate the knotweed

With the admin's green light and our own knotweed stopping plan, a pack of us came out yesterday and began digging an earthen trench around the knotweed patch with the rest of us getting a truck and a large tarp. The weather on Sunday was warm and humid, with little or no wind where we were. The soil, although loam-like and not too clay-ish, has tonnes of rock in it (maybe literally).

How does your garden grow?

And the squash has taken over...
Despite the relatively dry summer so far, the plants have done relatively well on the Campus Crops gardens. Perhaps all that organic matter in the compost we laid down early in the season as well as the new straw mulch is helping conserve moisture and keeping the soil cool. Despite that, certain plants are doing much much better compared to others.

For instance, the winter squash is spreading over the garden and throwing it tendrils over everything. The cucumbers, which were infested by some bugs, is now doing very well and putting out glossy green fruit that appears to be ready for harvest. The tomatoes are also quite fine, filling up their growing spaces with copious leaves and the first ripe fruits. Then there are the chard... which has still not recovered from the early season attack by leaf miners. The word "mangy" comes to mind.

In other words: Squash > Cucumbers > Tomatoes >> Chard.

Well, there's still several months of growing season so we'll see how everything pans out.