Curly Leaf On Peppers and Beans & Broken Leader On Liquidambar Tree

Question:

 I started a compost pile and was amazed at how fast everything decomposed once the pile got going. I used food scraps and yard clippings including the pruning from my peach tree that had leaf curl. Before planting this spring, I added the compost to my vegetable garden. Now, my bell peppers and pole beans have what looks to me to be leaf curl. Is my soil contaminated?

Answer:

As a general rule,  we don’t compost diseased plant parts.
  • The internal temperature of a compost pile doesn’t get hot enough to destroy the disease organisms or weed seeds.
  • Diseased plants trimmings are disposed of in your garden trimming container for weekly pickup with the other household solid waste and recyclable. Although in this case, the diseased leaves have done no harm and your soil is not contaminated.
  • The leaf curl on Peaches is called Peach Leaf Curl. It’s a water-activated fungus that attacks only Peach and Nectarine trees. It will not affect any other species. Also, the fungus spores overwinter above ground not in the soil. Curly leaf on plants can be caused by many different things such as insects, herbicide damage, and changes in temperatures along with the fungus diseases.
    • On Apple, Cherry and Plum trees, Aphids are the primary cause of leaf curl. Aphids are sucking insects, and you'll find them on the new growth. They cause the leaves to curl up like an Italian cookie.
    •  The herbicides in Weed and Feed’ turf products causes curly leaves with Mulberries and other shade trees planted in and near a lawn. The leaf curl is a reaction to the chemicals absorbed by the roots.
    • Citrus leaves curl up from cool temperatures in the winter months. So, again there are many reasons for leaf curl. The good news is that Peach Leaf Curl hasn't contaminated the compost or vegetable garden soil. I'd take a few samples of the curly leaves on the peppers and beans to your local garden center and have a nursery professional help identify the problem(s).
  • My guess would be you have some type of sucking insect problem.

Question:

 I purchased a seven-foot tall, Burgundy Liquidambar. Unfortunately, it blew over, and the top two feet broke off. Will it sprout a new leader or can I graft a cutting where the old leader was? Also, will it mature into a nicely shaped tree?

Answer:

  It is not necessary to graft this tree, as a new leader will develop just below the break
  • The tree will mature and have a nice shape, but it will never have a straight trunk as there will always be a bend at the point where the old and new leader meet. To prevent any more damage, support the tree with a pair of stakes and ties on either side of the trunk. All new trees should be re-staked with longer stakes at planting.
  • The stake that comes with the tree is inadequate and will not anchor the tree in the native soil as it only goes to the bottom of the container.