Ok, you mentioned "seasoned gardeners," but nobody has replied yet and so I'll give it a shot.
Over the past two years I have started a variety of plants from their seeds, some with success and some not. I've gone from seed to harvest with broccoli (early green and packman variety), tomato (Arkansas traveler and cherry variety), okra (emerald variety), kale (red ursa) and catnip. I had some nice looking jalepeno peppers once, but they died after transplanting and I don't know the reason.
For the timing, I start the seeds indoors about 1-1.5 months before I want to plant them outdoors.
For lighting, I have a fluorescent shoplight set up such that I can adjust its height. On for 16 hours per day. I keep watch and make sure the light is no more than a few inches above the seedlings, but not touching them either. This can be tricky if different kinds of plants grow at different rates, but there are ways to compensate.
(I know this is not "green" but it's been the only way for me to grow from seed out of season. But the light is on timer and also serves as night light.)
For growing medium I use an even mix of vermiculite and earthworm castings. (I'm lucky to have my own red wiggler "worm farm" that generates a steady supply of worm castings. I use coir fiber for bedding in the worm farm. They eat that and other food scraps.)
I have accumulated a great number of old/recycled yogurt containers with lids for this purpose. I thoroughly wet the medium, plant the seed, and the cover the container with its lid. Then check every few days for germination. Of course, remove lid after germination.
Here's a jalepeno grown as described:http://i41.photobucket.com/albums/e291/ ... 320072.jpg
Okra and tomato transplanted late last summer:http://i41.photobucket.com/albums/e291/ ... 182008.jpg
Broccoli grown from seed and planted last fall:http://i41.photobucket.com/albums/e291/ ... 720081.jpg
Always looking for ways to improve. Any ideas?