tomatoes die early

Twenty-five years ago I made some thriving little vegetable gardens by digging 4 x 4 holes two feet deep and using a lot of compost when I filled them in.
I moved away. Ten years ago I moved back and built a new garden near where the others had been. It has never worked very well.
Tomatoes are an example. Each year the plants seem to be doing well until the first fruits are big and green. Then, branch by branch, leaves begin to shrivel and fall, and I won't get any more big fruit.
What could be wrong?
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Where are you located? How often do you fertilize and what kind of fertilizer do you use? From your description of symptoms, I suspect fusarium wilt, and not nematode damage. It is a good idea to rotate your crops and not plant nightshades in the same spot over and over. What other kinds of amendments have you added to your soil if any?

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I'm on the Carolina Piedmont. I'd better not complain about other vegetables. They may have grown fairly well, but I have planted only tomatoes in the last couple of years. For several years, the plants would thrive until the first fruits were big. It reminded me of what borers would do to a squash plant.
Volunteer tomatoes thrive on the compost pile. The plot has lots of compost, some chicken manure, and some wood ashes. No smokers live here.
Thomas wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@ripnet.com writes:

I personally know someone who lost a large greenhouse full of young tomatoes because someone smoked a cigarette in their greenhouse. It was suspected it was a deliberate thing - neither they nor anyone who works for them smokes *and* they found the cigarette just inside the door. It was an expensive bit of nastiness on the part of someone.
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Besides what others have said (rotate, solarize), do not let the tomato plant touch the ground. That includes no watering from above (I have drip). I also mulch them with 2 inches wood chips, even a thunderstorm won't splash the aerial parts. And of course I cage them, so they really never ever touch the soil. Planting them with some elbow room will give them air circulation and also limit the bruising from harvesting hands.
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