Sorry for the not so friendly welcome. I am quite nice, really! I definately agree with covering any areas that you are not working on yet, if you wish to avoid spraying. You can never grow all that you want to on any land, in your first year, unless it was well cultivated when you got it. I would say dig the first area you want to use, as above, and cover the rest. Even tough perrenial weeds will eventually give up the ghost with no light for a whole yr. Those that don't, you could then resort to spraying with glyphosate after removing the cover and allowing them to grow on for a wkk or two. Try a 24hr weedkiller,(but they never are!) and wait till the topgrowth has gone. Glyphosate will allow you to replant immediately after the weeds are dead. You could plant the day after spraying, but you would have to plant around the weeds as if you disturb possibly live roots, you will have more than before. Patience in your first couple of years will reward you tenfold the next. You cannot rush clearing ground.
You could apply it soon, once the weeds are growing strongly, but they MUST die before you cultivate the soil. There will be hard work, the old fashioned way for your first grow season.
I know it sounds strange to let the weeds grow first, but they need to have enough leaf area to absorb the spray, and be growing strongly enough that it will be carried through the whole plant quickly. Young,weak or slow growing plants can survive a lot more chemical abuse than you think, as they are not moving enough water etc through their systems yet.
Do not even consider the types of weedkiller sold for paths. It will kill the weeds, but you will not be able to re-plant for a very long time. Glyphosate (Round-up, Resolve, etc) are your only option, as it becomes inactive in contact with the soil. Always read the small print on the label, especially ingredients if given!
I hope this gave you enough info to choose methods. Charles Dowding would be good to look up if you want to grow organically with less hard work. Almost everything you see on this forum is advice from members who have tried it themselves. I wish I had known about it in my first yrs of growing. You may find conflicting advice occasionally, in which case I would advise that you ask which part of what County the member is from, and see what advice you can get from someone nearer to you. But on an allotment, I would say be friendly and ask for as much advise from your neighbours as possible. Some will have grown there for yrs, and can tell you what will work there and what can't. There will always be differences of opinion, but you will get many different ideas from them and from here, and can filter all of it to suit your position. One person may say you can't grow pineapples, for example, but I'm sure I know someone on here who I willl be asking so I can try! He's also very good on composting and worms composting.
Edd, come help here?
So many skills are represented here, that new gardeners would struggle NOT to succeed with something. And as you learn more, you will have more specific questions that get you more specific answers. Stay tuned. Sometimes there are cakes! (if only virtually!) And watch out for Verdun. A fount of info he may be, but all he wants is cakes. Very fickle
You will soon come to meet the most knowledgeable members. They can be found on many threads. Most have some specialist knowledge,along with general, All are friendly, and the nicest bunch of people you will meet on any forum anywhere. I know for sure that they will always say 'Just Ask'. There is also a lot of fun on here. It is most definitely not a stuffy, boring forum, except for me. We even have a joke thread! although insults are thrown on there, regularly!