Summertime brings thoughts of vine-ripened tomatoes and strawberries, fresh and juicy, and growing your own at home takes a little know-how, and lots of patience. No garden would be complete without tomatoes and strawberries, and although strawberries should never be grown in the same soil where tomatoes have been in the past five years, you can plant these two crops together in your home garden. Given plenty of sunshine, rich soil and water, tomatoes and strawberries will produce an abundant crop, with the hardest part being not eating them all straight from the garden.
Select a location that receives full sunlight all day. The area should have ample room to allow the plants to grow without crowding each other.
Work the soil in the spring as soon as the chance of frost has passed. Till the ground to loosen and work in about 2 to 3 inches of compost down to a depth of 6 inches. Add 1/2 cup of lime and 1/2 cup of a balanced fertilizer such as 8-8-8.
Dig holes for each plant that are three times as deep as the height of the root ball and twice as wide. Space plants about 1-1/2 feet apart, with 3 to 4 feet between the rows.
Remove all of the leaves on the tomato plant, except for the top two sets, leaving four to five leaves on the plant. Place a plant in each hole, spreading out the roots slightly, and planting deeply so the top leaves sit right above the ground's surface. Fill in the hole with soil and gently tamp down, being careful not to break the stem.
Water well after planting, soaking the soil down 6 to 8 inches deep. Use a soaker hose to allow for deeper watering and give the tomato plants about 1 to 2 inches of water each week.
Apply a 2-inch layer of mulch around the plants to help conserve moisture and control weeds, which will compete for nutrients and moisture from the soil. Use straw or chopped leaves.
Fertilize with a balanced food such as 8-8-8, which has nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Apply when fruiting begins and each month after that throughout the growing season.
Place a 6-foot stake beside each tomato plant. Push down 1 foot into the ground, about 4 inches away from the plant. Attach the plant to the stake using strips of nylon stockings. Continue to retie as the plant grows.
Select a growing location for your strawberries that receives full sunlight all day. The location should preferably be on a gradual slope, which allows water to drain off easier, helping to avoid root rot and prevent frost damage.
Prepare the soil in early spring as soon as it is workable. Till the ground to loosen the soil, removing large clods of dirt and rocks. Work in an organic matter to add nutrients and produce a richer soil that strawberries thrive in.
Dig large holes that are at least twice as big as the root balls. Space the holes 18 inches apart, with about 4 feet in between rows to allow room for walking through and weeding.
Place the strawberry plants into the holes with the crown about 1 inch below the ground's surface. Fill in with soil and tamp down gently.
Water the newly planted strawberry plants well, so the soil is evenly moist. Use a soaker hose for watering to provide a deep watering. Give the plants 1 to 2 inches of water a week.
Apply a complete fertilizer, 10-10-10, about two weeks after planting. Water in well after applying and use again when the strawberries begin to flower.
Apply a 2 to 3 inch layer of straw, shredded bark or compost in the rows between the plants. This helps to control weeds, which is important since weeds can reduce the yield of strawberries produced each year.
Pinch off the first year blooms to encourage fuller, more healthy plants and increase the number of runners sent out. This is critical in the first year of growth when few or no strawberries are produced.
About this Author
Amy Madtson resides in southern Oregon and has been writing for Demand Studios since 2008, focusing on health and gardening for websites such as eHow and GardenGuides. Madtson has an Associate of Arts in business from Peninsula College in Port Angeles, Washington. She holds a childbirth educator certification and a one-year midwifery completion certificate.