It is just February, and I so want to start sowing and see a bean emerging, but it is too early, at least for my garden. It is not so much the cold, because at this time of year unless your garden is well sheltered sowings would be under glass and I use a heated mat to kick start germination, it's the lack of light.
Lack of light can make seedlings leggy, and inhibit good strong growth.
Outside and in a greenhouse light comes from 360 degrees over the course of a day; on a window sill or conservatory it is 180 at best and low light. Given the biblical rain in many place its been very overcast, with low light which is not ideal for seedlings.
Best wait till the weather bucks up a bit and the days longer so I am trying to hold back till late Feb/early March. It is a balance especially with vegetable seeds. In more exposed gardens, or where the growing season is not so good (and who knows what summer will be like this year,) plants need to get growing as soon as possible but too soon and your seedlings will not be the best. For ideas on what you could seed now, particularly in the southern part of the country, check out the February Gardening Calendar; for advise on how to germinate seeds and remedies for leggy seedlings.
If your vegetable plot is very exposed it maybe worth considering small plants rather than growing from seed, especially if space is at a premium for growing the plants on . My garden is very exposed and so for some vegetables, to get results, it is easier to buy a small plant such as for chillies. Plus one plant will produce enough chillies for the whole year so hardly seems worth it to buy and grow from seed for the one plant. Also unless the summer is really good, which is rare, getting large tomatoes to fully ripen can be uphill struggle; again I opt to buy established, usually F1 grafted plants. I really want to enjoy tomatoes in the summer, not just in Autumn and you have to work with the garden conditions you have. Many vegetables I can grow from seeds or sets, all the legumes, salads and all the onion family, root vegetables, courgettes and cucumbers are fine but some others, the big beefsteak tomatoes, sweetcorn, peppers, can be reluctant.
Much of my plot is damp, if not wet, and exposed so some veg need a helping hand. The good news now is there is so much choice on line and in the garden centres that small plants are a good option when seed is not viable.
On the plus side, given the conditions, I will maybe try some lily of the valley this year.