#challengeGary part 1

The challenges didn’t go ahead as we hoped this year. As with life, as well as living with home artificial nutrition, things change, and we need to adapt and adjust. Gary’s usual ultra challenges will be back, along with the rescheduled challenges later in the year!
James, who shared his story in HAN Week 2021, was going to be part of our event, so instead of a sporting challenge James challenged Gary to join him at his allotment and garden. It certainly was a challenge as the weather was dreadful, and Gary was out of his comfort zone in terms of gardening!
James is a keen sportsman. When he is not able to train he spends more time on his allotment. In addition to his allotment (20m x 6m), he has a greenhouse in his garden, bursting with produce. Due to the weather, Gary was spared the digging task originally planned, but James showed Gary around. It was apparent James was very comfortable in his surroundings, but it wasn’t the same for Gary! James explained what he was growing: cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes and around 5 types of peppers and chillis; scotch bonnet to the really hot ones, which Gary could not believe James eats! James mentioned that he also grows Cucamelons, they taste like a stronger melon and grow to the size of a grape. His garden and greenhouse are well tended; Gary observed it was more of a show garden than a family garden.
He grows large pumpkins, has an apple and pear tree, rhubarb, asparagus, strawberries, sprouts (we all love sprouts at Xmas), corn, chard, onions and potatoes. Thanks to the rain, it saved them having to do the watering! James did try to educate Gary on how to grow plants and produce, but this wasn’t going in as easy as he thought it would; Gary’s thoughts were “bring back my running”.
Asked if he had any help on his allotment, James said his mum sometimes helps him but his dad isn’t one for gardening. During growing months James said that he needs to come down every day if it’s not raining and get weeding done, which can take all day, plus he might be prepping an area ready to plant his next vegetables. James and the family eat just about everything grown. Any left, or that they have an abundance of, are shared with friends.
Gary asked James how he became interested in gardening and how long he has been growing things. He said his interest started from the age of 8, spending time with his grandparents. He used to help them in the garden and potter around as young lads do. He started to grow things when he was about 16 in his mum’s garden. When James was at university, he became very unwell; you can read his story via this link:  https://bit.ly/4549Jug
James has had his allotment for about 7 years now. He enjoys experimenting and growing new things. He does his research on the internet, how to grow things along with the time of year to plan them, and he learns a lot this way. Gary was curious to know if James had ever entered a show with any of the produce from his allotment. He said he had not, even though there is a local one, but no one knows how to enter!
Gary asked how someone would go about getting an allotment. James suggested people go to a local allotment; there is usually a sign giving contact information if you’re interested or you can find out by speaking to someone on the allotment who would be happy to help. They are all usually friendly. James enjoys chatting to others at the allotments, who have a shared interest.
James’s advice and tips: 
  • Don’t forget to water your plants and vegetables!
  • You need to rotovate your ground to break up the earth’s surface and remove any weeds or grass as this could cause problems.
  • Always rotate your crop, never plant the same thing in the same area; make sure you mix in manure with the soil. 
What has James had the most success with growing: Beans!
James’s other interests and hobbies:
James likes to run; he has tried to get into the London Marathon but was unsuccessful this time! He also likes to cycle and play badminton and tennis. He plays tennis twice a week and he cuts the grass down at the tennis grounds (groundskeeper in the making!).
Hopefully James and Gary will arrange their cycle challenge around the area when James is up to it.
Gary was pleased to have met with James; he was pleased his challenge was hampered by the rain. Gary came away knowing gardening and growing produce was not for him, but thoroughly enjoyed his time with James.
They both recognised that, while they each have their own interests and hobbies, appreciating what others do is a valuable lesson in respecting what is possible for each person. Being able to do something you enjoy is good for the mind and body.


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