One solution to both of these issues is either to buy primed seed, or to try priming your own seed. Seed priming is a set of processes which are used to "fast-forward" the germination process to a point, before the seed is sown. Each plant species has its own optimal priming method. If you want to try to prime your own seed, and you can't find the best method to use on the Internet, try an experiment to see what works best. Try, for example, soaking the seed for 24 hours in water only, or try a solution containing a ratio of about one teaspoon of salt (sodium chloride: NaCl) in about a gallon of water. Then, remove the seed, dry it on some paper towels, and sow it as usual within a few days. Compare its germination time and growth to some unprimed seed. Have fun!
Photo: Seeds. USDA-ARS