Look for varieties that have fairly short maturity dates, 55 to 75 days, which will be noted on the plant tag. The maturity date is the approximate number of days it will take from the time you transplant the plants to your garden until you harvest your first ripe tomatoes.
Purchase stocky, dark green transplants with pencil-thick stems and at least 4 to 6 pairs of mature leaves. Steer away from plants that are wilted, off-color, or appear diseased. Plant tomatoes deeply, covering the stem 2 to 3 inches above the root ball, even if you have to remove the lowest set of leaves. This will help to ensure well-rooted, sturdy plants in the garden.
Tomatoes like water. The best method is to thoroughly soak the ground around the base of the plant as needed. During particularly hot weather, tomatoes may need to be thoroughly watered 2 to 3 times per week. Tomatoes also like food. Fertilize your tomatoes monthly with a formula made specifically for tomatoes or for other flowering and fruiting plants, such as Miracle-Gro® Shake ?n Feed® Tomato, Fruits & Vegetables Continuous Release Plant Food. Avoid high-nitrogen formulas, which will encourage leaf growth at the expense of tomatoes.
Tomatoes will begin ripening 6 to 8 weeks after the appearance of their first flowers and continue for several weeks. Some varieties produce tomatoes until frost. Harvest tomatoes when their color has fully developed and they have just begun to soften.