A septuagenarian has come to be celebrated as the “vegetable king” after he tweeted photos of his produce during lockdown.
Gerald Stratford, 71, who gained worldwide acclaim after posting photos of his potatoes, now has more than 36,000 people following his gardening Twitter account.
“Basically I’m a fanatical vegetable grower, I love growing veg,” Mr Stratford said.
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Mr Stratford, who lives in the tiny village of Milton-under-Wychwood in west Oxfordshire, started a Twitter account in February 2019 in order to discuss gardening with a small group of friends.
But he became something of an online celebrity after a tweet about his first early rocket potatoes of the year.
“My phone was going berserk, and I wasn’t sure what was going on, I phoned up my son-in-law and he said ‘you’ve just gone viral!’ he said.
“It’s gradually got bigger and bigger and bigger, people seem to like what I’m doing.”
Mr Stratford said he now spent about an hour per day answering people’s gardening questions on Twitter.
He also shares regular photos of his vegetables, which range from potatoes and cauliflowers to carrots and courgettes.
Another popular recent tweet read: “Just emptied my first bucket of Charlotte potatoes 11lb2oz from two seed potatoes I’m well pleased cheers.”
Mr Stratford said: “I think a lot of it is the younger people, especially the American younger people, seem to like the old English man who’s happy and growing veg.
“Quite a few people call me the vegetable king.”
Mr Stratford has always been a keen gardener. He has previously won vegetable-growing competitions and contributed to his local garden club.
He said he gives anything he and his wife do not cook to family, friends, and a local nursing home.
“I don’t get involved in politics, religion, race or anything, I’m just me and my garden and my wife supports me; she cooks the produce I grow and we make pickles and chutneys and jams,” he said.
“I’m happy, I don’t do sadness. We live in a sad world at the moment, and if I can make people happy by this Twitter thing then I will.”
Additional reporting by Press Association