I love to garden and I am so lucky to live on 20 acres of sandy loam soil (think raspberries - more on that another day). It is the perfect soil for growing anything.
Our first year on the farm, I decided to be organized and keep track of what I was doing in the gardens. So every year since we moved in I have started a garden journal. The first 3 years (2005-2007) I used a journal I had already. In 2008 I found this fantastic mini binders (here) and have used one each year.
I use it as a basic day-by-day journal, documenting what I've done and when as well as the weather. I also keep track of what types of vegetable and flower seeds I used, including brands, and document how each plant does. It really helps for planning the following year. What worked, what didn't and so on. Last year when my husband wanted to plant our vegetable garden in March I was able to show him the past few years of planting dates!
When I purchased my first mini binder I also ordered paper, graph paper, dividers and divider pockets. The pockets come in handy for keeping everything together. I also keep track of seeds I order and try to keep most of my receipts so I can track how much I spend each year. I also purchased to "rubber bands" meant just for the mini binder (see on green binder above), they are fantastic for keeping everything inside the binder while I'm working with it. At the end of each year I go through and make sure everything is attached using scrap booking tape/glue. I also try to include photos of the gardens at different stages each year.
I also like to plan out my vegetable garden, drawing a "map" with colored pencils. A few years ago for Valentine's Day my husband gave me a fantastic gardening book named "The Vegetable Gardener's Bible" by Edward C. Smith - it is a great resource for what to plant together, what NOT to plant together, plant rotation and great basic information about most vegetable and herbs.
I do purchase some annual flower starts and vegetable starts but I am fortunate to have a small greenhouse that my dad built for my mom, in which I can start quite a few things. Early April I am able to start cucumbers (you should really try the lemon cucumbers), pumpkins, tomatoes, zinnias, marigolds and peppers. I start my impatiens in my enclosed, south facing, front porch late in February since they take a LONG time to germinate.
So the planning has begun for the 2010 garden. I've ordered my white impatien seeds, hollyhocks, fancy "mumsy" marigolds, a wide variety of zinnias. As soon as I shake off this cold/flu bug I'll be out to the local garden centers and KMart (love those Martha Stewart seeds) to plan the rest of my vegetable and annual flower beds.