Last year I just put plants I bought at the nursery in the ground and hoped that they grew. I ended up with way too much of some things (grape tomatoes), and some plants I never had a long enough growing season for anyway, so they didn't thrive (carrots, brussels sprouts).
Here's the garden last year through the seasons.
Everything just planted!
That's lettuce that has bolted and gone to seed on the right, and cabbages ravaged by cabbage worms... bastards. Also some wild grape tomatoes on the left (I didn't learn about pinching of suckers until late in the year), cucumbers got crazy, and pepper plants that produced well into the season!
Pretty much just cleaned everything out. There was some swiss chard still, and beets and carrots that didn't produce because I didn't plant them soon enough. But in the back of the bed on the left is garlic!
Well, you know, it's winter. I'm just glad no trees came down on the garden during Sandy. It will get plenty of sun this year at least.