I live in the San Francisco / Bay Area and have a few raised vegetable beds. I have tried growing seeds outdoors (recently I sowed carrot, beet and cilantro) but have not had any luck with germination. I have done this indoors in a heating mat without issues. What am I doing wrong?
If the soil temperature is adequate, the seeds are good, the depth is correct, then likely the seeds are rotting in the ground or are being eaten by animal life.
That's why people use seed mixes to plant seeds into, to avoid bacterial and fungal pathogens, to avoid competition from other plants (allelopathy), and for good drainage.