Revealed: the secret to growing big vegetables

Big Veg author and Twitter-famous gardener Gerald Stratford reveals how he has such success with growing big vegetables and fruit. He also has advice for those just starting out

home grown veg and garden shed with tools
(Image credit: Getty)

Many of us discovered the joy of growing our own vegetables over the past year. One person with plenty of knowledge on the topic is Twitter-famous gardener Gerald Stratford.

Gerald and his wife Elizabeth are almost self-sufficient with their home-grown vegetables. The gardening lover spends time tending his veg every day, and says that giant veg really is a bonus.

'It’s an off-shoot, growing big veg, to just being a gardener,' he says. 'A little extra thing at the end. Some people take it to extremes, I don’t do that.'

However, Gerald is famous for his success in growing huge vegetables. So we asked the retired fisherman, known as the 'Veg King' about how to grow big veg. 

He also shared his best advice for those of us growing veg for the first time – handy if you're looking for ways to give your vegetable garden ideas a boost.

The secret to growing big vegetables

gerald stratford and his home grown tomatoes

(Image credit: @geraldstratfor3)

So, what's the secret to growing big vegetables, whether huge carrots, celery and rhubarb? It's not as dramatic as you might think

'You’ve got to start with the right seed,' Gerald says. 'Any seed won’t grow big.' He explains that large veg is a different gene from the standard-sized seeds.

greenhouse in a garden

(Image credit: Future)

Look up the larger varieties of the vegetable you're growing if you're thinking of branching into big veg. For example, if you'd like to try growing large carrots, Imperator 58, Carrot Seeds can grow to around 9 inches. 

If you're planning a kitchen garden, growing vegetables for the first time, or even looking for fun vegetable container garden ideas, Gerald says that gardening success comes down to enthusiasm. 

'Try not to do anything you don’t really want to do. That’s something you do in another life,' he says. 'Enthusiasm breeds confidence. Try not to plant something complicated – pick something simple, like radish.'  

gerald stratford and his home grown rhubarb

(Image credit: @geraldstratfor3)

Back in May 2020, Gerald shared a handful of photos of himself and his harvest of potatoes on Twitter, taken from his sunny Cotswolds garden. The post soon racked up thousands of likes, while earning him a legion of loyal fans.

'I put them on Twitter, early afternoon with the caption, "My first early rocket," Gerald recalls. 'Well, please! My phone starting bleeping and buzzing and bouncing around, and I thought, "What’s going on?" I didn’t really understand it.'

Today, he posts regular videos on his Twitter sharing his gardening advice, and spends hours a day replying to questions from his 300,000 followers. He also has a book, Big Veg coming out on September 2nd, to help people learn and enjoy growing their own. 

'I want to make it an encouraging book, a book people can carry around with them for reference. That’s what I’d like to think might happen.'

Millie Hurst
Section Editor

Millie Hurst is a freelance lifestyle writer with over six years of experience in digital journalism. Having previously worked as Solved Section Editor at Homes & Gardens and Senior SEO Editor at News UK in London and New York, Millie has written for an array of homes brands including Livingetc and Real Homes and was formerly Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home. She has written and edited countless features on home organization, decluttering and interior design and always hopes to inspire readers with new ways to enjoy their homes. She lives in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, and loves to weave nature-inspired decor and nods to time spent in Italy into her own home.