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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.