Growing things is so much fun! We haven't put in a garden in over 4 years so I was very excited once I realized we would be able to devote a little time and space to planting this season.
I have always preferred to start my plants from seed for a couple of reasons:
More choices of what you get to plant.
Better handle of when they will be ready to plant.
Excitement of seeing a little seed grow until it is a mature and thriving plant.
Keeping these points in mind I usually try to start my plant selection just after New Years. We usually have seed catalogs arriving around that time of the year and I go through what I currently have in storage.
This year I started off by setting up the seed trays in our laundry room, eventually I moved these out to the the other house since we were not doing much over there this early in the year.
Once they put on a couple of true leaves I planted up the tomatoes, and peppers, into some larger cups so that they could get more established and develop a stronger root system.
A couple of correction of errors for next year:
1. If I use peat pods again I need to make sure I remove the outer wrapping when I transplant the seedlings. I found that some of them became more rot bound initially and they seemed to start off slower if I left the wrapping on.
2. I need to build a cold frame next year. I lost probably 2/3 of the seedlings I started because of wind, sun and rain exposure once I moved them outside for hardening.
This year was my first year to use containers. It was overall successful but I feel that these containers drained too fast for my tomatoes. I built up the containers with about 6 inches of mulch, some weed paper and then a mixture of compost, peat moss and vermiculite.
Again, the results were good but I think I would have experienced less fruit cracking if the tomatoes could have sent down a few tap roots.