When a plant seed works in your garden note it in a garden diary. Take note of the season's weather conditions, where you planted the plant, in sun, partial sun, shade? Note the name and the scientific name as it might have more than one secular name.
Companion plant and note what works and in what weather conditions, etc.
I plant flowers along the edges of my garden so that regardless of which way the wind blows fragrant flowers cover the garden. Many pests are confused by the aroma of the flowers and can't find the vegetable they're looking to eat. I also plant flowers in the middle of the garden to make sure predatory insects that eat the insect pests are lured into the whole garden not just it's edges.
Flowers also attract pollinating bees, wasps, bubble bees, flies and other pollinating insects Everyone should have a insect books to reference so that we don't kill the beneficial insects. Also you don't want to kill all the insect pests as other beneficial insects, birds, lizards, frogs, etc eat these pest insects. A garden that is out of balance will attract a horde of insect pests and overwhelm the natural predators. Then you should try organic means of pesticides and herbicides.
Use sparingly if you must use. Use a very light dose and see if that helps then if need be up the dosage but stay within the recommended safe range.
Every year once you find what organics works you'll suddenly find your garden almost taking care of itself.
Common sense says that if you don't get much rain use drought resistant seeds and grow drought tolerant plants. Seed packages are very good at detailing a seeds needs. Plenty of books on plants as well. Learn the scientific name to be sure the plant your reading about is the plant you've got in your garden ;)
These gloomy gray days can be brightened up with seed catalogs and plant magazines that are available through subscription as well as your local library.
I subscribe to gardening catalogs around November to be sure to get them arriving during the winter months here in Zone 6, Indiana, USA.
I hope your 2012 garden grows an abundance of delicious fruits, vegetables and nuts.
The above picture is of the same kind of compost tumbler we bought in September. We've been composting in it all winter. We should have bought two of them as they were on sale for $99. If we'd had two we could have switched composting every six weeks giving the compost time to turn into soil.
Live and Learn