Grocery store tomatoes pale in comparison with homegrown because they're bred to handle shipping, not bruise and ripen on the way to the store rather than on the vine. Tomatoes come in two main types, indeterminate and determinate.
Choose indeterminate varieties if you want tomatoes ripening all season long. Once the plant gets going, it will blossom, have immature fruits and ripe fruits all at the same time. Indeterminate tomatoes come with fruits that are small, such as cherry tomatoes, or huge, like beefsteak; in different colors, such as yellow, pink and red; and in various shapes--plum, pear, round and grape. Examples of indeterminate tomatoes are Early Girl, Lemon Boy and Champion.
Plant in rich loamy soil where the tomato will receive eight hours of sunlight. Afternoon shade is a good idea in areas where summers are hot and dry. Remove the leaves from the tomato stem, leaving four at the top. Plant the root ball and gently lay the tomato on its side and bury the stem up to the top four leaves. The leaves will right themselves in a couple of days. The stem will root and make the plant stronger.
Water on a consistent basis. The soil should be moist a few inches down but not soggy. Inconsistent water leads to fruit cracking.
Fertilize with water-soluble fertilizer per package directions. Use plant food formulated specifically for tomato plants if you like.
Remove any blossoms until the plant is 18 inches high.
Support the plants by staking or with tomato cages. The vine will keep growing all season. Clip the main stems to focus the plant's energy into the fruits.
Choose determinate tomato varieties if you want to have the tomatoes ripen closely together for use in making tomato sauce, jelly or juice. Roma is the best known variety of determinate tomatoes, but there are lots of others like Celebrity, Golden Nugget, Oregon Spring and Small Fry.
Plant, water and fertilize as for determinate tomatoes.
Watch the temperatures and humidity levels when the plant starts to blossom. Do not remove any blossoms. Tomatoes set fruit best at temperatures no higher than 90 degrees with humidity between 40 to 70 percent. Shade the plants and mist to bring down the temperature and raise the humidity.
As the fruit starts to turn color and ripen, be careful about consistent watering. Since the fruit ripens all at once, all the fruit could crack with inconsistent watering. Cover the plant with bird netting when the tomatoes start to ripen. The birds are greedy and instead of eating just one or two fruits will peck at many of them. You could lose most of the crop.