Bugs in my Cone Flower

Asked June 27, 2013, 8:22 PM EDT

Hello,
I have something wrong with my cone flowers that is either aster yellows, or a mite. These cone flowers are established plants that come back every year, and I have never had a problem with them. The heads are deformed, necks bending over, petals not forming, leaves curling, etc.
This year is the second year I have used straw as mulch in my garden. I am wondering if I have brought in bugs/diseases with the straw?
But the cone flowers aren't the only thing having trouble-
In the garden this year, things look stunted, growing slowly, tomato plants with weird curled leaves, poor germination or complete lack of germination of certain seeds, etc.
I am having trouble finding information on the downsides of mulching with straw, only read about the benefits.
Last year's straw stayed on the ground all winter, and is now in the compost.
I have been gardening for years and I am at a loss. The only major change in the last couple of years is using the straw. Could the straw be the culprit? Can straw harbor pests and diseases? Have I infected my entire garden? Should I get rid of all the straw and never use it again? Should I get all of last years straw out of the compost? Should I cut down the coneflowers or pull them out completely?
Thank you for your help!!!!
Robin

Jefferson County Colorado fruits and vegetables

2 Responses

Dear Robin,

The cone flowers may have Aster yellows but they may have been affected by an herbicide applied to the wheat or barley field that your straw came from as well. On more than one occasion straw has been the culprit as a carrier of residual herbicides. Once the straw is applied to the ground watered and exposed to the sun the herbicide can move off of the straw either into the soil or volitilize into the air.

Thank you Curtis for your help-
Robin