March: Warning About Growing Potatoes at Home

Now is the time home gardeners are planning their vegetable gardens and ordering seeds, and some may be considering growing potatoes this year. The Ontario Ministry of Food and Agriculture (OMAFRA) has some cautions about growing potatoes in urban home gardens.

Their web site explains: “Late blight caused by the fungus Phytophthora infestans is a devastating potato disease. Spores in the late blight fungus are spread by the wind and can travel long distances. Urban gardeners cannot access commercial crop protection materials that provide good control of this disease. Potatoes grown in urban areas are sources of late blight inoculum that can infect potato fields located as far as 200 km away.”

For this reason, they strongly recommend NOT using saved potatoes or purchased eating potatoes. Instead, OMAFRA recommends only planting certified disease free potato seed from a reputable garden centre.