I use a combination of very small peat pots and plastic cell inserts. I find that the seed starter soil from Henry Fields is fantastic. I always have very good results with it and I do not have a problem with my soil drying out. (A big hazard with delicate seedlings.)
I have heat mats that are placed under my seed trays to help keep the temperature of the seed trays a little warmer. Last year was my first year to try them. I had two and I found they really helped with starting seeds such as tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers. I bought two more this year and I am excited to see if they help push my cole crops along so that they have a good size in time for early spring planting. Word of advice, when buying heat mats for seeds, search online at Amazon.com so you can find the best deal. They can be very expensive and I have found I can get them for about $16 online.
I have a plant rack that my husband and I have attached aquarium light hoods to in a way that allows me to move them up and down as the plants grow. The plant rack has been a great investment! I start most of my plants from seeds and purchase very few plants for the garden. (Sometimes, I can't resist a cool new variety of a vegetable or a flower that will make a great companion plant.)
My plant rack will hold 8 trays, right now I only have 3 1/2 trays started. These are the seeds I started today;
Fast Vantage Cabbage, Farmer's Extra Early Cauliflower, Hybrid Premium Crop Broccoli, Perfection Drumhead Savoy Cabbage, Cherokee Purple Tomato, San Marzano Tomato, Black Krim Tomato, Diamond Eggplant, Baby Bok Choy, Riesentraube Tomato, Black Cherry Tomato, Fish Pepper, Italian Pepperoncini Pepper, Mulato Islano Poblano Hot Pepper, Hybrid Twilight Eggplant, Sweet Bell Mix Sweet Pepper, Lg. Leaf Italian Basil, Tango Celery, Coriander, Cilantro, Curled Parsley, Bok Choy, Jalapeno Pepper, Sweet Bell California Wonder, Blue Scotch Kale.
The cole crops need to be started so they are of good size and strength for early spring planting. If I don't start them early enough, they will not mature before it begins to get too hot and then they will bolt. The warm weather crops, such as tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers, always produce so much better if they are a good size when they are introduced to the garden. It's the hardening off process that is a pain, but it's all worth it!
I feel that I'm off to a good start with this year's garden. Now I just have to figure out where my different 'neighborhoods' will be and make sure I rotate my beds. Back to my notebook!