Posted: 01/11/2017 at 12:40
I sow in spring, and mainly direct, but if you have warmer conditions than I do, sowing now (as scroggin describes) is a good way of getting earlier flowers. Mice can be a pest so it's always worth doing a couple of batches and then some in late winter/early spring if you can. Sow some direct as well to give a succession.
It's rough, cold wet, windy weather that's bad news for them rather than dry cold, so the protection helps to keep them steady over winter until they start growing away properly. Don't over heat them though, as that can make them a bit leggy, and you'll have to keep pinching out more than you would if they're allowed to germinate and grow more naturally.
NGJac - picking ones that you like is the right thing to do. No point growing something you don't enjoy
You might find some will grow and thrive better than others, but it's a learning curve and a very enjoyable one. I've found that the whites can be a bit less floriferous, but I also find that they do better with more shade than some of the others.