Now is the time to start a gardening journal; as you start planning your garden, start making notes in it. It can be a 3-ring binder with pocket folders, a calendar with pockets, or an online gardening journal. Keep everything pertaining to the garden in it.
Keep your garden designs in it. Every year when you do a new graph for a layout for your garden or one of the garden beds, place it in the gardening journal so you have it for the next season. This will help with plant rotation.
I also make a lot of notes during the season that become a wealth of information for the following years on what to do, or how to change it, or what not to do.
You'll want to write down the last frost date, how severe the winter was, and anything unusual about the winter. Write down when you were first able to work the soil, as well as when the perennials started coming back to life and the seeds that self-sowed start popping up, germinating. Keep track of bloom and harvest dates, fertilizing dates, and what kind of fertilizer.
The more notes, receipts, seed packets, and pictures you add to your gardening journal the more helpful it will be for the following growing seasons. If you tested your soil's PH, write down what you used to test it, when you tested it, what the PH was, and any amendments you may have added to it. Note any insect pest damage or critter damage. Take and keep photos of the actual insects, damage they've caused, and the course of action to rectify the situation. Pictures of your seed beds, seedlings, plants, blossoms, diseases and anything else you want to photo will be a great help in your future gardening endeavors.
Remember to keep your gardening journal up to date with:
what you have planted
what you have tried
what has worked well
what needs improvement
unusual changes to the weather
new insects, birds, butterflies
changes, additions, or deletions that you may have made, etc.
Keep track of the nurseries you purchased seeds or plants from. Also any handouts you've acquired. Check with your local county extension office for handouts and garden journals.
After all these years I still get excited with each phase of the gardening season and the possibilities it brings. I'm still experimenting and learning something new everyday with all of the new techniques and theories that continually come out.
If some of your plants didn't make it this year, that's okay. It happens to all gardeners including me. For reasons we may never know a certain percentage of our plants (flowers, fruit, herbs, vegetables), just don't seem to make it sometimes. Other times we know why - due to an extremely rainy summer or we didn't provide for enough drainage, or we had a drought, or a hungry little rabbit that has decided to have it for lunch. Perhaps the bee population had decreased.
Sometimes these things just happen - we can't predict it, we're just left wondering what happened. Keeping track of everything in your gardening journal, may provide some clues as to what really did happen and help you prevent it the next season.
Extra Items To Include In Your Gardening Journal:
How you prepared your soil, exactly what you did
Seeds started indoors, when and exactly how you did it
Hardening off dates
To do list
Individual Plant Profiles
Harvest, dates as well as plants that did well and those that didn't
Yield Amounts, did you grow enough, do you need to grow more next season
Records of Preserving Your Harvest: drying, canning, freezing, jellys, vinegars
Recipes for Canning, Freezing, etc
Tool maintenance unless you have a tool maintenance journal
Enjoy growing and using your herbs and do take time to sit out in your garden and enjoy the colors, aromatic scents, as well as the birds and butterflies that have taken up residence. While you're sitting there, make notes in your Gardening Journal. Take care, and take care of your garden!