By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter
Tomatoes and strawberries do not make good neighbors in the garden. Strawberries can not even be planted into a garden space that contained tomatoes for several years. Tomatoes and strawberries both like to mulched. Tomato plants require mulch through the growing season to conserve soil moisture and increases the root mass of the plant. Strawberries, on the other hand, use mulch only as a protective cover against frost and cold weather. In the spring the mulch is removed.
Tomatoes and strawberries do not share the same soil pH requirement. Strawberries do best when the soil pH is 5.8 to 6.2. Tomatoes, on the other hand, do best when the soil pH is 6.5 to 7.0. Both plants like a soil that is full of organic matter. Tomatoes like a well-drained, loam soil while strawberries like a deep, well-drained loam soil that is on the sandy side. Tomatoes can be planted in recently plowed sod areas, but strawberries can not. Newly plowed sod causes weed problems for strawberries and expose their roots to white grubs. These grubs are found in lawns and eat strawberry roots.
Both tomatoes and strawberries require at least six hours of direct sunlight. The growth habit of tomatoes provides shade that is detrimental to the strawberries. Also, tomatoes do best on flat land while strawberries require an area that has a gradual slope. This slope guides any frost that may appear way from the strawberry plants.
Both tomatoes and strawberries suffer from verticillium wilt. While there are plants that are bred to be verticillium wilt resistant, they can still carry the disease to the garden. This exposure can then spread through the garden plants that are not verticillium-wilt resistant.
Tomatoes and strawberries have different fertilizer requirements. The tomato garden requires a soil test. After the soil has been tested and the nutrient deficiencies have been addressed, add a maintenance application of 5-10-10 or 5-10-5. Once the tomato plant begins to flower, add an application of 8-31-16 or 6-24-24 and continue to apply every two weeks for the whole growing season.
The garden space where strawberries are going to be placed still requires a soil test. Depending on what the results show, the soil can take up to two years before it is ready for strawberries. In the spring before planting the strawberries, apply 20 pounds of 10-10-10 per 1,000 square feet of garden space. At this point, if the soil was prepared correctly, the strawberry fertilization is complete.