Wow, Daniel, be sure to post tons of pictures as you work on the bow!
I use red plastic mulch. It's not too expensive, and I have really noticed a difference. It reflects the right kind of light onto the tomatoes for better growth. One of the ways I like to use it is on my bucket planters, where the site advises using a black garbage bag. Red is a much better idea. One thing to be aware of, though, is that it's impermeable. So if you make it a permanent mulch for the rest of the growing season, make low places and poke holes in those to drain water into the ground. At the end of the season, we ended up having a lot of moisture issues and should have taken the mulch off.
I've seen people start lettuce and spinach inside. I guess that's what you could call my current container greens, though they sit outside most of the time when it's not nasty out. It just grows so fast that I haven't considered "starting" it early. Lowe's and Home Depot sell lettuce that are already picking size, but seed reaches maturity in 30-45 days under the right conditions. I was going to do all my greens in containers, but decided to plant wild lettuce in the front flower bed, then get 2 good cuttings before digging it up and putting peppers and eggplants out there.
I agree with corn... direct seed only. There are some things that just grow way too fast to start inside, and you end up hindering them by letting them get rootbound as you wait for the right time, then transplanting them.
Whenever my seedlings can, they go right outside. Well, as long as it's above 38 degrees and the wind isn't going to kill them. A little wind and brisk temperatures do make them stronger. I invested in grow lights last year, when I started them and then we had NO good weather over a few weeks, and the tomatoes weren't doing well at ALL! Bringing them inside, with no grow light, for just 2 days showed an intense impact. Especially when I didn't have enough natural light for the volume I had started. Last year, I downloaded Weatherbug onto both my desktop and my husband's, so I could watch the temperature even when he was on the computer. It was so difficult to get good sun with all the cold weather, that whenever the temps said 38, everything went right out! I got a lot of exercise, especially since I started some bucket potatoes in March. In mid-April was when Russ had his heart attack, and all of the sudden it was just me, carrying everying out every morning, in at night, and rushing home to save my plants whenever a really nasty wind kicked up. But it was all worth it.
I should try mantis sacs. My main worry... will they just be chicken food? The chickens won't be going in the garden at all while it's tender, but can go in once everything is above 18 inches.
For good fertilizer, don't forget to hit Aubrey up for some coffee grounds. They're full of nitrogen! You can make a "tea" out of coffee grounds and compost, and leaf-feed them. Before putting any cow, chicken, or horse manure on the garden, make sure it has composted for a few months. Rabbit manure can be used fresh, though. It's great, like slow-release pellets... just sprinkle it at the base of the plant.
Just like you, Sunny, I could go on and on!