Tip #1: Start your seeds early!
Every year, I start my seeds earlier than I did the year before. And, every year, I realize that I should have started them even earlier. I think in Southern California it's particularly hard to get your timing right because all the seed packets say, "plant after the last frost." Um, what if you don't have frost, ever? I think my new rule of thumb will be: Plant when you don't have to wear socks to bed anymore. I guess this only works if you live in a house with very minimal heating capabilities, like ours, but perhaps you can find an analogous temperature test for yourself. (Perhaps, plant when you can walk your dog in the morning without getting painfully cold fingers.)
It's especially helpful to start the seeds for fruiting plants--tomatoes, peppers, eggplants--early. This is because, not only does the plant have to grow, but then it has to bloom, make fruit and the fruit has to ripen before you can eat it. This process can take a while, and if you want to be able to get several harvests from your plant before it dies, you gotta get things moving in early Spring.
I planted some tomato, pepper and eggplant seeds in small pots last weekend. And I will probably plant a few more rounds of seeds in the upcoming weeks. For seed-starting, I prefer using the 3 or 4 inch pots you get from the nursery when you buy a small cactus or flower. If you use smaller pots, they dry out more quickly, and you have to transplant really tiny plants into bigger pots at some point. Really tiny plants are really easy to kill.
So, that's tip #1. Look for more tips in the coming weeks. I think I have at least 2 or 3 more pieces of gardening wisdom in me. Definitely 2.