This is my third year of growing veg, so my advice would be:-
1. Grow crops you want to eat, salad, Tom, Carrots no point having space taken up by something you dont like ( for me last year that was sweet dumpling squash)
2. Talk to people - though i don't have an allotment or any neighbours who veg garden i have discovered 6 gardeners at work and now have a seed swap going on., which leads nicely to
3. Try 1 different crop for fun - in a pot. Last year i tried golden beetroots loved them and this year they are going in the ground for a larger crop. My crop for this year is fruit bushes which i bought last year from poundland and grew in pots and they are going in the ground this year.
4. Enjoy it. . . . dont take on too much at first and take time to sit and enjoy it as well:)
Don't bite off more than you can chew and have a plan
I'd echo the above thoughts. Don't try and do everything at once and enjoy things. Growing your own is fun and not hard labour, although you might have some of that first!!
It's easy to get tempted to try everything in your first year. We all do it and it doesn't work. Keep it simple and build on that year on year. Good luck and keep us posted.
When ever I have taken on a new garden or moved house. I have always grown potatoes to help "clean" the ground. Potatoes once in the ground are easy to weed and when the shaws meet in the drill this provides a canopy of leaves which helps prevent weeds from growing. As Colin & darren have said. Don't get carried away. Your veg garden should be a pleasure and never a chore. Keep it simple and stick to your plan. I find time runs away with me when in the veg plot and iiieven when things go wrong it is such a "Stress buster"
My ten commandments would be (and sorry for repeating those already made...
1) Think before you do - especially important if you are planning long term perennial veg like Asparagus, Artichokes or Cardoons.
2) Grow (or try to grow) only what you like (but see below - 3, 4).
3) Make sure you know what you like - and remember fresh veg can be so so different to shop bought. (up until we got together my wife's one an only experience of Asparagus had been supermarket tinned - we now have 4 Asparagus beds!)
4) Try something new each year. Be adventurous and try either something completely new to you like Crosnes or Asparagus Peas every year. A row of this is not the end of the world and you may just discover it to be an annual eesential.
5) Don't try and fight nature too much (see below - 6, 7)
6) Try and remember that (for instance) the advice in your February gardening magazine is for February - not January when you bought and are reading it. Then add 2, 3, or 4 weeks on before you do what they say.
7) Do not be put off by others being ahead. Unless you are growing for showing later is always better than earlier. Nature is far better at catching up than it is trying to cope with being woken to early. If people want to tray and start stuff super early or plant out before the fear of frost as realistically subsided let them - they may get away with some of it some of the time - but never all the time.
8) Never cease to be amazed or surprised. Horticulture may be a science but it is not an exact science - so no matter how much you do or do not know remember 'curved balls' will come your way every year in some shape or form. Learn from your mistakes as well as your accidental successes.
9) Never trust anyone who's happy to be called an expert. I think we are all always learning; I believe that to be an expert at anything takes at least two lifetimes and I don't know anyone who can manage that. My father started growing and selling plants in 1940 at the age of 6 (to his local pet shop) and has spent his entire life working in and earning his living from horticulture - but even now he'd be more than happy to admit that he still gets things wrong. I'd like to think I'm and will always be just the same - I really do believe you learn something new every day.
10) Finally, try and enjoy yourself! On a good day I think I'm one of the luckiest people in the world doing what I do.
On a bad day, at 3am in the morning when we've got several feet of snow trying to collapse our cold greenhouses and I'm refilling emergency heaters to try and melt it - and we've lost our electricity so we've been running on generator for several days - and the bulk gas tank for our heated greenhouses is so empty we're running on fumes and the tanker can't get in because of the snow, I'm not so sure. But as I haven't done anything else since leaving school I guess I wouldn't know any better.