Meredith asked me about starting peppers from seed and when I will do my planting. I started to comment back but it got so long I decided to do a post. Let me know if you have any gardening questions and I'll try to answer them!
Last year was my first time starting peppers from seed. I just bought a Jiffy Seed Starter Kit and put a seed or two in each little disc of dirt. I did transfer them to little Solo type cups once they were about an inch or two tall and put them outdoors. Once they had their second set of leaves I put them in the bed. My plan is to start them inside earlier, maybe wait until they're a bit bigger to move to the first cup (unless they're falling over because they've grown leggy which also happened last year) and wait until the second set of leaves are bigger to put them in the ground. Mine took FOREVER to grow once they were in the garden. They stayed about 2 inches tall for over a month. I think peppers must need to stay a bit warmer and be allowed to grow in a big (for a seed) container than other seedlings. I'm kind of thinking of starting them in yogurt cups this year.
I'm starting my seeds this weekend and will put them in ground March 1st unless it gets warmer by then. March 1st is the last frost date for me. I'm starting seeds about 2 weeks earlier than last year because we have a short spring growing season before it gets too hot. I get nothing from mid June through mid September. My only goal is to keep it all alive because the second it cools off my garden has always gone insane. I found last year that my pepper and tomato seedlings were just too small come March 1st to grow and produce anything before the heat set in. By starting them earlier and putting them in larger containers (than a seed tray) I hope to have a bit more growth and production by June.
Of course this only applies to what I'm starting from seed early - just my tomatoes and peppers. Everything else I will do a direct sow because I can in my region. I am going to direct sow my more cold tolerant veggies earlier - radish, lettuces, spinach and carrots. Not only is it more cold tolerant than others, but because it can get hot here so fast you have to plant these early or they'll bolt. Check your state's extension office website for information. I'm able to get really specific information for my county on when to plant and what I can direct sow and when. I am able to have everything aside from peppers and tomatoes produce in the spring just fine. I plan on doing a second planting of almost everything but tomatoes and peppers in the fall when it cools off.