Then I ran across this site Wintersown.org. I laid aside the laptop and dug my bootbox full of seeds out of the cupboard. I have about 40 different kinds of seeds, mostly veggies and herbs, but some flowers too, like the California poppie and sweet William seeds given to me by SM a number of years ago when we lived in the OC.
The premise at Wintersown is that you can sow seeds in plastic containers with clear lids and put them outside to emerge in their own time. No grow lights, fancy flats or pampering. The seeds come up with more vigor than ones grown under lights in the warm, dry air in the house. The containers can be as simple as two-litre pop bottles cut in half with then the top slid back down over the bottom planted section. She encourages you to use your initiative and make use of what you have. I'm thinking the plastic cartons I buy baby salad greens in would be excellent!
I've nothing to lose but the price of a bag of growing medium, and if I get a dozen plants to set out once the raised beds are built it will have been worth the price of the medium. I have lots of seed that I am not certain is viable, some are several years old, as I often planted half a package, or less. I might not even take the chance of planting these seeds directly into the garden, as I question the viability.
This will obviously not work with the beans, squash or melon seeds *yet*, as they don't like cold temps, but I have loads of broccoli, spinach, Asian veggies, greens, onions, chives, peas, etc. which would be quite happy to go into the ground now. I'm thinking, plant them and nestle them down in the mulch where they will have some protection from the sub-freezing temps we are still having at night.
Oh the excitement!