I don't know if he was prepared for how literally I'd take that.
The first thing we did was get rid of three garbage bags worth of trash. We hoped to plant sunflowers in the existing soil, but it turned out to be barely an inch deep; underneath was gravel. So instead the kids and I put in a few raised beds with the hope of growing some flowers that would brighten up this spot on Gratiot Avenue (one of Detroit's main thoroughfares).
It turns out that if you want to build a garden on someone else's property, it really helps when the owner is a hardware store with a great gardening department. Busy Bee donated much of the soil we used in the first three boxes, and Ritchie and Sandy had already given the kids seeds that we started in March. After we built the three raised beds, we loosened up the soil underneath, pulled out weeds, and laid down cardboard and newspaper before filling them with a healthy mixture of bagged peat, manure, topsoil, and compost.
Filling the soil with flowers was easy. The sheds of Eastern Market are just two blocks away, and late on a Saturday afternoon some flower sellers practically give away the flats they don't want to haul back to their greenhouses. Once the kids actually planted the flowers they were pretty invested in this garden. We've helped with several gardens around the city over the past few years, but this was the first one that really depended on us. My interest in this project was less about gardening or growing produce, but teaching my children the responsibility that comes with caring for these plants. They understand we need to go to the garden every single day. They understand how important it is that each plant get water.
There is no water source in the vacant lot, so we bought a few 3-gallon sprayers. Every day we fill them up and haul them up to the garden (usually in the covered wagon), and the kids will argue about who will water the flowers and who will pump the sprayer.
Occasionally (especially on really hot days), more than just the flowers get watered.
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