Tomato Plants Dried Up and Died
Every season my tomato plants start out great, but dry up and die before I harvest many fruit. I have moved the plants around the garden and even tried growing them in containers. Several things can cause tomatoes to dry up and die.
If the problem only occurred in ground I would have you check to see if any black walnut trees are growing in the area. The roots, leaves and fruit of these trees contain juglone that is toxic to tomatoes and many other plants. Since your container plants are also affected this would not be the cause.
Fusarium and verticilllium wilt cause similar symptoms. These diseases are in the soil so container gardens are a solution. Be sure to clean your pots with one part bleach and nine parts water and use fresh sterile potting mix next time you grow tomatoes in a pot.
Septoria leaf spot also causes browning. The lower leaves develop circular brown spots, turn yellow and eventually the whole leaf turns brown. The disease progresses up the plant until you have very few leaves. You usually have a decent harvest off some very ugly plants.
Early and late blights can also cause the symptoms you describe. Reduce disease problems with some simple planting and care techniques. Properly space and stake or tower plants to allow good air circulation and light penetration. This reduces the risk of disease.
Mulch the soil to prevent soil born disease organisms from splashing onto the plants. As a last resort you can treat tomatoes, at the first sign of disease, with a copper containing fungicide labeled for use on tomatoes. Repeat applications will be needed throughout the season. And as always, be sure to read and follow all label directions carefully.