Between a global pandemic, acrimonious presidential election, and civil unrest, it’s more important than ever to find joy in this world where we can. Although Twitter is quite often a cesspool for those aforementioned reasons—one corner of the social media platform is occupied by an elderly British gardener, who just wants to show off the enormous vegetables he grows.
Gerald Stratford is a 71-year-old grandfather who lives in the small village of Milton-under-Wychwood, located in Oxfordshire, about 75 miles outside of London.
After working for years as a barge controller on the River Thames, Stratford retired about a decade ago. Though he used to be an avid fisherman, he only got into serious gardening in his retirement.
“I got tired of fishing. But I’ve always liked gardening —I’ve always done it,” Stratford told the iPaper back in August. “So now I put my efforts into that. I love it, and I love growing and eating my own produce. Although I do still catch trout from time to time.”
As far as the variety of things Stratford grows in his garden, he does it all—from tomatoes and cucumbers to leafy greens and root vegetables.
“I just love big veg. I want to grow the fattest onion, the longest leek. I want to dig up the biggest celery,” he explained. “You name it, I’m growing it. I do love the challenge. I’ve got some cucumbers over eight pounds at the moment. They’re 24 inches.”
Stratford says he doesn’t have any ambitions for his gardening, other than enjoying the fruits of his labor and then tweeting about it. Though his partner, Liz, broke her ankle last year, he adds that she will occasionally join him to pick flowers.
“And we’re almost self-sufficient, which is handy, especially at the moment. We’ve been making lots of salads and having them with cold meats. And we make lots of chutneys and jams, and piccalilli, and sauces.
We also dry tomatoes and jar them with olive oil, like they do in Italy. Tonight we’re having turban squash hollowed out and filled with mince. I like cheese on mine but Liz doesn’t care for melted cheddar.”iPaper
“I don’t do politics, I don’t do religion, I don’t do football. I just do me and my garden and my partner, Liz. It’s calming. There’s nothing controversial,” Stratford adds. “I’m just an old Englishman happily showing off his vegetables.”