Hello. Is it absolutely necessary to stake tomato plants? We planted 38 tomato plants in landscape fabric and I'd prefer to let them fall down in their natural growing habit. Is this such a bad thing? Thanks, Linda
From what I have read they will be more prone to rot if the fruits touch the ground.
Maybe in arid warm climate it is ok to let them sprawl . This way the roots an fruits will stay cooler. But with humid and rainy environment supporting tomatoes is required, if you don't want disease and rotting.
The leaves will come into contact with many more disease microorganisms on the ground. Good air circulation around the plant helps reduce disease, and there will be less air circulation if the plant is lying on the ground, so more diseases.
When I've had volunteer tomatoes in my compost area, the loss of fruit to bugs was many times what I would normally see with staked plants. And in those conditions, I could pick less fruit because the vines/leaves/fruit were lying all over the ground and many fruit were unreachable (unless I wanted to step on the vines/leaves/fruit to get to them).
Now that said, I'm in WNC, where it can rain at any time (at least, it can during the Wet Years), while you are in zone 10 -- and if that's a dry Zone 10, you may not have so many problems with critters on the ground as I do here?