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Gerald Stratford, a retired fisherman living in the Cotswolds, rose to Twitter fame after he shared some pictures of his potato harvest. A year on from his viral post, the enthusiastic gardener continues to share snapshots from his garden with his hundreds of thousands of followers.
We caught up with Gerald for advice on how to get involved in the grow your own movement, whether you're interested in growing vegetables in pots or creating a bigger veg plot for bumper crops. As well as sharing his gardening wisdom, he also explained why he believes big vegetables will come into their own in the future.
'Gardening is one of the oldest things known to man. Stone Age man was found to eat grain which he farmed,' Gerald begins. 'It might not be farming with horses and tractors, but they learned how to use the land to survive, and that’s what we’re doing isn’t it?'
He comments that the space available for growing vegetables is shrinking all the time. 'Every property that gets built on a piece of soil, that’s a piece of soil lost to growing vegetables.
'I haven’t got any statistics, but, say a farmer grows 100 acres of carrots to supply a certain amount of people. If he could grow his carrots bigger, he wouldn’t have to grow 100 acres. He could grow the same volume of carrots in say 20 acres,' Gerald says.
So, instead of buying a bag of carrots, we could just buy one large carrot. As it takes less land, big veg would, in theory, be a more efficient way of feeding the world. 'There is a fallacy that big veg doesn’t taste as good, but I prove people wrong,' he smiles.
'The feeling you get when you eat the first vegetable you’ve grown will never leave you and it will spur you on to do more,' he says. If you're feeling inspired to grow some of your own vegetables, check out our kitchen garden ideas piece.
Gerald recommends starting with something simple, like radish or potatoes. Our guide on how to grow potatoes is a brilliant place to start your growing journey. You can follow Gerald on Twitter (opens in new tab) for more growing tips too.
Ruth Hayes, a gardening expert from Amateur Gardening magazine suggests giving Sutton's 'Atlantic Giant' pumpkin seeds (opens in new tab) a go. You can also get 'Exhibition' onion seeds (opens in new tab) to grow big onions.
Plus, she says that if you've followed our guide on how to grow courgettes and don't harvest your courgette and leave it on the plant instead, it will get marrow-sized. When googling 'seeds for big vegetables,' bear in mind that it's now slightly late in the season for growing many varieties this year, but it's never too early to get prepared for the next growing season.
Gerald Stratford's book, Big Veg (opens in new tab), out on September 2nd, is available to pre-order now.
Millie Hurst has worked in digital journalism for five years, having previously worked as a Senior SEO Editor at News UK both in London and New York. She joined the Future team in early 2021, working across several brands, including Gardeningetc. Now, she is Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home, taking care of evergreen articles aimed at inspiring people to make the most of their homes and outdoor spaces.
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