Looking at my 2012 garden calendar, by this date last year I had planted radishes, raddichio and spinach in my community garden. The crocus, early daffodils, forsythia and cherry leaves were sprouting in my backyard. While its not to soon for spring, a post today (March 22) on the MN Master Gardener Listserve, reminds us we can be planting vegetables, even with the foot of snow on the ground:
"I've cold-sown all kinds of seeds in many types of containers in the last 7'ish years. I've gotten the best results from: 1. Seeds of perennials , especially natives (Stands to reason, eh?) 2. Seeds of self-seeding annuals, including tomatoes (Again, this makes perfect sense) 3. Seeds of cold-hardy annuals like kale, lettuce, snapdragon, pansies, broccoli, etc. While a gardener can try cold sowing with any seed, in my experience the lowest germination rates come from the least cold-tolerant plants, e.g., peppers. As for timing, I am doing my cold-sowing this week. While I've done it earlier in the season, I've found no advantage in doing so and maybe a slight reduction in germination rates in the more cold-sensitive plants. When is it too late to cold-sow? When you can sow seed directly into your garden! For cold-tolerant seed, that means as soon as the soil is workable. For heat-loving seed, that means when the soil has warmed to ~60 degrees (F) and the danger of frost has passed. The beauty of cold-sowing is that the seedlings emerge and grow in concert with Mother Nature. Only "she" decides when the seed will germinate and how fast the seedlings should grow. And when the time comes to transplant the seedlings into the garden, they experience no temp-related transplant shock. (Sue Schiess Hennepin County Master Gardener)"
Also don’t forget Terry Yockey’s great link on Winter Sowing.