A 71-year-old man dubbed the “vegetable king” has become a social media star after tweeting photos of his produce under lockdown.
Gerald Stratford from west Oxfordshire gained praise across the globe after posting photos of his potatoes, with his gardening Twitter account now followed by over 36,000 people.
“Basically I’m a fanatical vegetable grower, I love growing veg,” Mr Stratford told the PA news agency.
Mr Stratford, who lives in the tiny village of Milton-under-Wychwood, started a Twitter account in February 2019 in order to discuss gardening with a small group of friends.
However, he went viral for the first time in May of this year with a tweet about his first early rocket potatoes of the year, and is now getting used to life as an online celebrity.
He told PA: “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!’
“It’s gradually got bigger and bigger and bigger, people seem to like what I’m doing!”
Mr Stratford told PA he now spends around an hour per day answering people’s gardening questions on Twitter.
He continues to share 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, previously winning vegetable-growing competitions, and contributing to his local garden club.
He gives anything he and his wife don’t 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 told PA.
“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.”