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!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Better late than never!

At last! Finally! Was about time!

We know, we're quite late at the party, but a few things delayed our garden opening this year. We've decided to get things done once and for all this Saturday June 1 at 1pm, rain or shine! The weather will most likely not be perfect, so dress accordingly (at least it's not going to be 7 effing Celsius degrees like last weekend).

During the afternoon, we will assemble the self-watering containers that are not done yet (about a dozen), prepare the beds in the soil garden and, if all goes well, plant. Everyone is invited, especially people who want to be involved in the collective!

For Facebook users, there is a Facebook event.

As an hors-d'oeuvre, a few pictures:

Our new garden, finalized, although there's still a bit of work to do
 around it (none of our concerns, now that we can plant!).

Our dearest japanese knotweed has awoken from its slumber.
It is, unfortunately, quite vigorous.

A nice specimen, about 12 inches high. The little things are taking advantage
of the fact that the area is in renovation and almost impossible to mow.

Our hoop house, doing its thing behind the James Administration building.

The seedlings we got last week from the Vert-ta-ville seedling sale
at the Concordia greenhouse. Doing well despite the less-than-ideal weather!

From left to right, we got cherry tomatoes, tomatillos, parsley, peppers, ground cherries, eggplants, oregano, onions, leeks, and lavender.

The terrace, with the completed self-watering containers along the sides. Since there will be renovations around the drain, near the center, we were asked not to put any container there for the moment.

All of them containers, along with the hoop house, at the far end, and the potato box, right in front of the hoop house.

Update on the potato box

A while ago we made a potato box.

On woodworking

In the meantime, one of our member got told by a friend that our design for the potato box was good, but that screwing in the end grain of the wood (like we did) wasn't recommended. The solution is to add wood plugs perpendicular to the grain so there is some cross-grained wood for the screw to hold onto, which is what we did with our limited skills and equipment.

 For this we used wood dowels of 1" of diameter that we cut into 1½" plugs. A smaller diameter may be better; it probably depends on the size of the screws used. In order to insert those plugs, we needed to drill the holes, so we used a hand drill with a 1" spade drill bit...

Here's the beast.

...although the only bit we had at hand had a very long shank and was a bit overkill for the job (and potentially dangerous, quite frankly). A drill press would have been ideal for this kind of work, especially since drilling a 1" wide hole in cedar is quite demanding and can exhaust the battery of a hand drill quite rapidly.

But first, in order to make sure we'd drill as straight as possible (and at the right place), we drilled pilot holes where the center of the larger holes would be.

The pointy tip of the spade bit engaged in the pilot holes, making sure
the bit wouldn't "walk away" when drilling.

Spade drills often make the wood "explode" when reaching the other side, so we only
drilled halfway through on one side, and then finished the work from the other side.

And then bam! The hole wasn't perfect at first, though, so we had to go through it again
with the spade bit to remove bumps that would prevent the wood plug from going through.

And then we could saw the dowel into plugs and insert them in the holes. We're not sure what kind of wood our dowel was, but it clearly wasn't cedar, and probably not hardwood of any sort. This might be a problem for the durability of our potato box. Time will tell.

Here's the dowel, being cut into plugs. You can see pen marks every 1½ inches, because eyeballing everything can result in bad surprises, and using a finger as a standard wasn't very safe.

Bam! The plug wouldn't completely go through by itself, so we
helped it a little bit with the hammer-thing at the top right.

Last step, re-assemble the unit.

Fine observers may have noticed that the screws were not screwed in their original holes. That is partly due to the fact that the wood plugs were not all in the path of the original screw holes, and also because we screwed up (haha!) and put the plugs too far to be reached by the screws we originally used (2½" screws). So we used longer screws and made sure they would go through the plugs.

On potatoes

We forgot to tell you about this earlier, but we have potato seedlings in progress. Although potatoes can be planted as unsprouted tubers directly in the soil, one can get a head start by starting them as seedlings. This is convenient when, like in our situation, planting is delayed.

Potatoes, unlike other crops, can be grown using any potatoes you buy at the store or the market (potatoes from your local farmers' market may do better in your region, though). Beans bought at the store, for example, are treated with some anti-sprouting agent. If you are able to buy dried beans directly from a farmer, though, they should be able to sprout (don't make my word on that, though).

To start potato seedlings, place the potatoes in an egg carton with the scar of the stem at the bottom. If you don't eat eggs, you can place them in anything else that will hold them upright (for example, below, a makeshift cardboard-thing). Place the tubers in a dry, warm and dark place, although a bit of indirect sunlight is not a bad thing.

The cardboard-thing with the potato seedlings. The borders could have been lower, in order to allow better ventilation and exposure to light.

At that point, some suggest rubbing off all the sprouts except the three or four topmost ones to concentrate all the energy of the potato in the production of healthy seedlings, while others suggest to let the tuber be and then, at the time of planting, to cut the potatoes in pieces containing 3-4 sprouts each. You're the boss, applesauce. If you do cut them in pieces, though, make sure to do it a few days before planting, in order to allow the potato flesh to dry; this will reduce risks of rot or diseases.

At Campus Crops, we believe that exposing potatoes to anarchist materials at an early age makes better prepared and tastier potatoes at maturity, hence the flyer at the bottom right reading (roughly translated): 'We don't give a fuck about your elections! We don't vote, we fight!" 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Incoming and ongoing seedling sales in Montréal!

Some resources for the gardeners who are looking for seedlings to add to their garden.

Vert-ta-ville seedling sale at the Concordia Greenhouse


Flowers, vegetables and herb heirloom seedlings at 3$ a piece from May 21 to May 24 (or until stocks are exhausted, which tends to happen quite fast).

Find more information in the Facebook event or on the Concordia Greenhouse blog.

Santropol Roulant's Seedling Sale


Come one, come all to the Roulant's Annual Seedling Sale!
On Saturday, June 1st, from 11am to 5pm, we'll be selling the extra seedlings from our greenhouses, all of which have been grown from organic seeds using organic methods. They're perfect for getting your garden off to a good start.
All proceeds from the sale will go to Santropol Roulant's urban and peri-urban agriculture programs. With a couple of exceptions, seedlings sell for $3.50 each, or 3 for $10. Most seedlings have been potted up to 3 1/2 inch pots. 
Here's what we expect to have for sale: tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, basil, parsley, lettuce, shallots, ground cherries, cucumbers, summer and winter squash, and more!
If you'd like to reserve your plants in advance, please email Tim. See you at the sale!

Santropol Roulant is located at 111, Roy east.

Get your seedlings at Coop La Maison Verte


La Maison Verte, in NDG, also offers seedlings that you can order on their website and pick up at their store (5785 Sherbrooke West) every Saturday until June 8.


Greening Indoor McGill First Plant Sale

Annual GIMI indoor and outdoor plant sale!
Friday, June 7th 11-2pm
Downtown campus, intersection of lower fields (between Arts building & Roddick gates)

Now that spring is finally here it’s time to think about plants!!  Are any of your indoor office plants getting too big? Do you need to divide your garden perennials?  Are your neighbours and friends tired of accepting your divided perennial “gifts”? Did you start too many tomato plants? We would be thrilled to receive any of them!

The Greening Indoor McGill Initiative is hosting its 1st Annual McGill indoor and outdoor plant sale on Friday, June 7th, 2013 from 11-2pm at the intersection, lower campus fields (halfway between Arts building & Roddick gates). Mark your calendars! Pass the message on!

Find more information on their website.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Container garden opening! May 13-14

Credits: Dana Skolnick
UPDATE: Due to the weather on Monday, we are not done setting up the container garden. Join us behind the James Administration building between 1-4pm this Thursday May 16 if you want to help out!

Finally, it's time to get our hands dirty! Campus Crops will be setting up its container garden behind the James Administration building next Monday and Tuesday, May 13 & 14 from 1-4pm! If the weather is clement, we will start planting in our containers on Thursday May 16 at 1pm.

Bring clothes you don't mind getting dirt on, and working gloves, as we will be shoveling rocks and soil as well as transporting containers across the area. Campus Crops has a few pairs of gloves for those who don't have any.

Here's a map to our "Garden Terrace". See you there next Monday and/or Tuesday!

Email us at campuscrops@gmail.com if you have any questions.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Our container garden! Soon!

It is now a matter of days/weeks (depends how you count) before we can put up our container garden and plant stuff! While our soil garden is being "renovated" (or destroyed, depends how you see it), we planned the design and crops for our garden behind the James Administration building.

It's going to be a great garden, but we'll need help to actually make the containers (since we took all of them apart last year) and plant crops. We have yet to decide on an exact date for this, but stay tuned. If you feel like washing and repairing some containers in the meantime, just email us at campuscrops@gmail.com.

Anyway, here are some cool 3D pictures of the site (we want to thank the MacDonald campus computer labs for their landscaping software).

For those who want to know:
-That's an A-frame.
-That's a hoophouse.
-That's our potato box.
-And that's the model of self-watering containers we're going to build.

To scale. View from the North-East (James Admin building on the left, going upslope).

To scale. View from the South.

The set of 10 containers at the bottom left will be under our A-frame. This plan is to scale.

The characters are a bit small, but that's the best we could get on this blog. This plan is not to scale.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Campus Crops is hiring!

Campus Crops is now hiring a Garden Coordinator

Position Dates: June 1 - September 15
Hours: 20-25 hours/week
Pay Rate: $ 3000

About Campus Crops:
Campus Crops is an urban gardening initiative at McGill University's downtown campus. For five years, we have been running a garden behind the McGill School of Environment building at 3534 University. Three years ago we expanded to the terrace space behind the James Administration building and built a self-watering container garden. Apart from maintaining our two garden plots, we also organize workshops, film screenings and other activities. If you have any questions feel free to email campuscrops@gmail.com or check out our blog for what sort of things we've done in the past!

- Day to day operations in the garden: setting gardening hours with volunteers, planting, building self-watering containers, weeding, harvesting, etc
- Community outreach, recruiting volunteers
- Collaborating with Santropol Roulant's Edible Campus Garden on workshops, events, and volunteer base
- Preparing a workshop for RadFrosh at the end of August, as well as other workshops throughout the season
- Liaise with administration on campus (SSMU, SPF, MSE, Grounds, etc.)
- Design and facilitate a training for new collective members in the fall (including an overview of our mandate and consensus based decision-making)
- Prepare a written exit report to be presented to the collective at the end of September

- Ability to work autonomously
- Ability to work with volunteers (able to organize and delegate tasks to volunteers)
- Ability to work in English
- Ability to plan events
- Gardening experience
- Strong organizational skills
- Strong knowledge/interest of food-related political, social, economic and environmental issues, urban agriculture and/or food preservation
- Commitment to social change and to Campus Crops' mandate of social and environmental justice and ability to apply this to all aspects of the job

- Familiarity with Campus Crops’ work
- Familiarity with Montreal-area community groups
- Ability to speak French
- Ability to perform the physical tasks involved with garden upkeep
- Knowledge of plant pests & diseases management

Application Deadline:
Please submit your resume by May 10th to campuscrops@gmail.com. There is an option to submit a brief cover letter explaining your interest in Campus Crops and the position. Selected candidates will be interviewed from the 13th - 17th.  

We welcome a diversity of applicants including those from traditionally marginalized groups, and we encourage you to mention this in your application.