container cherry tomatoes

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I bought this nonsoil seed starter mix for $1.00 at Walmart and started my tomato seeds in my south facing apartment window-grew like gangbusters. At 1ft high I replanted them in Dad's halfbarrel patio planter. He tried tomatoes last year there and they failed immediately. I think he had the soil too compacted because I really had to work at loosening the soil. So something began growing like a weed at the front of the barrel-large leaves. Something is eating those leaves like crazy but hasnt touched my tomato plant whose leaves are beautiful and has doubled in size in one month. We pulled this supposed weed. Is it good to plant/keep "distractions" around your tomatoes? With the weed gone, will "it" start chomping on my tomatoes leaves?
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A wrote:

Tomatoes shouldn't be planted in soil that has been used before for tomatoes. A lot of tomato diseases are soil borne and even if the previous crop prospered, the next one might not. You should also use potting soil in containers. If there was regular soil in the containers, it would be very compacted and probably didn't help the plant very much. It also holds less water and nutrients than potting soil and unless it's fertilized like crazy, the tomatoes will have nothing to feed on.
So something began growing like a weed at the front

If it hasn't touched the tomato yet, it probably won't. Have you mulched the based of the plant? This will dissuade slugs and snails which love to munch on most plants, holds moisture in the soil and keeps the soil from splashing onto the plant when you water (passing on disease).
When you're done this year, dump the soil somewhere on your lawn, wash the container well and let it sit for the winter outside then next season fill with potting soil (cut with some peat if it's a larger container like a half barrel) and plant your tomatoes.
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thanks, hadnt mulched yet-i was considering a mesh-like collar laid on top the soil around the base.
this wkend i replaced the small cage with a bigger cage to hold the vines. i broke off one smaller branch when recaging-does anyone seal off those open wounds?
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I don't seal wounds, but I do stick the broken piece into the ground where it will usually grow!....
Deb, who can't even thin baby plants until they're big enough to eat.
hadnt mulched yet-i was considering a mesh-like collar laid on<BR>top the soil around the base. <BR><BR>this wkend i replaced the small cage with a bigger cage to hold the<BR>vines. i broke off one smaller branch when recaging-does anyone seal off<BR>those open wounds? <BR><BR> <P> <HR>
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A wrote:

Anything to prevent splashing. Even newspaper would work.

Nope. Tomatoes are pretty tough that way. Do you remove the suckers that appear between the branches and stem?
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wasn't doing any pinching off but i will. i read another post about using bright red plastic around base of tomato plants-i think i will do that-now i have to find my christmas bags :-)
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