early lettuce

FYI: west coast, zone 8, pretty much a newbie.
I want to grow lettuce and maybe some other early cold-season crops this year, but I'm a little unclear on how it goes. I've been told that lettuce seeds need to be refrigerated for 24 hrs to "trigger" them, but I've also been told that they should be started indoors. So, do I refrigerate them, then put them in trays indoors until they sprout, then plant them outside? Any limit on temp? Will frost kill lettuce seedlings? If so, how early can I really do this? Will a frame-and-plastic-tarp setup help significantly?
I'm also interested in doing this for other early crops like maybe rutabagas. Any others?
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I'm in zone 9 (southern portion of the san joaquin valley) I put lettuce seeds directly into the ground. I had to buy pony packs this year as I got a late start. Everything is doing good. We've already had a light frost. No info about rutabagas. UC Davis has a lot of information. they also have a great gardening book just for CA. It's worth the $$ http://vric.ucdavis.edu/usesites/ressite.htm#garden
http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/InOrder/Shop/Shop.asp
HTH Nicole

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I have never had to refrigerate (stratify) lettuce to get it to germinate. I used to sow seed directly but now the ants carry off so much of the seed so that I start indoors under lights, then transplant. I am also in Zone 9 (the AZ desert version) and lettuce does great in the winter and takes our light frosts. Right now, it really looks nice. I have transplants going and set them out continuously as the older plants are used up. I have never checked the temperature for germination but I expect it's around 70 degrees.
Rutabaga and most root vegetables do not transplant well and are best grown by seeding directly in the ground.
Olin ===================================

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Dennis Edward wrote:

as long as they spent some time in the freezer, you can start them indoors or outdoors. I plant them in september outdoors to overwinter under cover, in february indoors for transplanting in april, and in april I seed them outdoors. They all come up.

Seedlings are very frost resistant. In Zone 8 I am guessing that you can plant them outside in february.

Arugula maybe, and chard, which here in Michigan is ready in June. These are my main spring crops. Many others like radishes. Peas are more of an early summer crop here.
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In Zone 7, I start my seeds indoors straight from the package under lights three weeks before I want to set them out. The normal date for putting them in the gardern is three weeks before the average last frost date.
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