I'm guessin that the 5 gal buckets did not give the tomato plant's roots enough room to really grow well.
Last year I tried a container garden which was empty 5 gal bucks filled with soil and then I planted some tomatoes, radishes, etc... It failed Big Time so it was just another sacrafice of plants to the Sun Gods.
I will pile up all the leaves from the fall in the garden area, along with twigs and limbs that end up in the yard. Burn most of them and till that into the soil of the garden. And if the weather is too windy or rainy to allow burning, they get tilled in as is. After 4 years of doing this, the soil was black when wet and after 7 years, it was black all the time. I've never tested the PH or anything. But anything that gets withing 2' of that soil grows!
A few quick tips. Look at when to plant certan things. Peas like cooler weather and can be planted early. And when you are done with them, throw in your radishes or other quick growing veg. Lettuce likes a little shade. A good one to plant to the North and East of your corn. Use your grass clippings between the plants to help keep weeds down. Don't pile fresh clippings against your plants as the amonia produced druing break down can harm and kill the desired plants as well as the weeds.
Donny, by all means, please list those plants that help keep away the pesky animals.
This year, having moved into a new place, I am going to plant a spcial garden to keep these little guys and gals happy. (see images)
Sorry for the blur, these were taken through a screen door.