72-Year-Old Gardener Goes Viral On Twitter After Posting Photos Of His Big Vegetables
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
Scrolling through Twitter these days can get depressing, but there are moments of joy, like happening upon a photo of a British gentleman smiling with pride at the giant carrot he grew in his garden.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
You may have seen the gentleman were referring to. His name is Gerald Stratford. He's a 72-year-old gardener who lives in a small village in the Cotswold in England. Stratford has been gardening his whole life. He and his brothers used to help out their father in the garden.
GERALD STRATFORD: It's rubbed off, I think, because we all think he was the best gardener in the world.
CHANG: He joined Twitter in 2019 to connect with other gardeners. His nephew, Stephen, helped him set up his account. And then, in May of 2020, Stratford posted a photo of his potatoes. The caption was my first early rocket, very pleased.
STRATFORD: Now, rocket is the variety of potato. And a while later, my phone started bleeping and buzzing. And I didn't really know what was going on. So I got in touch with Stephen. And he said, you've just gone viral with your spuds.
CHANG: He gained thousands of followers over the next few days.
STRATFORD: And I was just astounded. And from then, it's just grown and grown and grown.
CORNISH: Stratford loves growing big vegetables, the kind you submit to exhibitions. Twitter goes wild when he posts pictures of them.
STRATFORD: I've had carrots over a meter long, parsnips over a meter long, big potatoes, big courgettes, tomatoes. And I've always had a dream of growing a monster onion.
CHANG: He gardens all day. During the summer, he's in the garden from 4 a.m. until noon - when he takes his break - and then he gets back out there until dark. He grows all sorts of vegetables - bell peppers, zucchinis, tomatoes. But Stratford admits he has a favorite.
STRATFORD: I love growing potatoes, but I also like anything which grows below the ground because there is always a hint of mystery.
CORNISH: Five years ago, Stratford was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He received treatment and got the all-clear in 2020. He thinks gardening had a big part to play in that.
STRATFORD: It's never been a job. It's always fun. I love it. I'm happy. You know, it's my medicine.
CHANG: That was Gerald Stratford, the big vegetable gardener from England. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.