AN OXFORDSHIRE grandad has gone viral on the internet for his passion for gardening.

71-year-old Gerald Stratford grew three and a half pounds of new potatoes in his greenhouse, and some rocket leaves, which he shared with his online gardening community on Twitter.

However what Mr Stratford, of Milton-under-Wychwood, wasn’t expecting was the reaction his tweets would get.

The photos have received over 80,000 likes, from all over the world.

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Mr Stratford said: “It seems to have caught people’s attention, especially in America.

“I didn’t really know what was going on and then my son-in-law told me I’d gone viral.

“My phone was in meltdown as I kept getting messages from Twitter.

“Within 48 hours, I’d gained 9,000 followers.

“I’ve been getting a lot of messages on Twitter asking for gardening advice since the tweet so I’ve been helping people out with tips.

“If I can make people’s lives happier then that makes me happy.”

Oxford Mail:

Mr Stratford grows an assortment of vegetables - from cabbages and cauliflowers to carrots and courgettes.

“I’ve got a lovely garden and it’s taken over my life,” he said.

“I’m passionate about my garden and get a lot of enjoyment out of it.

“I’ve got into growing giant vegetables and my ambition is to grow the biggest onion.

“I follow a lot of things on YouTube and I want to grow a tromboncino, which is a type of squash.”

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Mr Stratford, who only joined Twitter in February, donates all his spare produce to Tall Trees, a care home in Shipton-under-Wychwood.

He grew up a keen gardener and earned his pocket money as a child doing gardening.

“My parents were keen gardeners too, and virtually every parent back then had an allotment,” he said.

Mr Stratford’s daughter, Karina Baughan, was as shocked as her dad when she saw how the internet had reacted to her dad’s photos.

She said: “He phoned me and said he’d gone global on Twitter and that he had thousands of likes.

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“I had to look at it twice and had to tell him that this wasn’t normal.

“There’s lots of lovely comments from people and we’ve now nicknamed him the Potato King.

“He’s always been a gardener - when we were growing up we always had fresh vegetables and flowers in the garden.

“It’s his passion and something he likes to do.

“He gets that connection on Twitter with other people who like gardening.”

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“For most of my life I was a fisherman and a gardener but I decided I’d done enough fishing,” Mr Stratford said.

“I have to do everything 100 per cent and I like a challenge so I suppose that’s the sportsman in me.”

Cassington-born Mr Stratford started life as a butcher where he worked in the Covered Market in Oxford, before spending 20 years working for what is now the Environment Agency.

After spells as a porter and a water bailiff, Mr Stratford retired aged 62.