Gardening from seed can seem daunting, but it greatly expands the varietal choices available to you for your favorite crops. Starting seeds indoors is a common practice for northern gardeners and a myriad of resources exist to help. We frequently turn to the trusty folk at Seed Savers Exchange.
Download their handy guide: Growing from Seed: a Handbook
Browse their helpful site: Learn - Gardening and Seed Saving How Tos
This university ag extension chart lists soil temperature germination ranges for vegetable crops and includes days to appearance of sprouts.