The garden can be done even without having a lot of time available, however what it requires is constancy. If you choose to make a small plot you will never have to spend long moments on it, but you must consider going to periodically check your crops and do small maintenance jobs every time.
Even the fact that the garden is organic does not mean that it takes longer than a normal garden, but it is important to "guard" it frequently: this allows you to intercept any problems such as insects or diseases before they spread.
It is impossible to say how long a vegetable garden takes away: there are too many factors at stake: which crops you will plant, what size you will choose to grow, the climate and the season, your aptitude for work.
You ask me how to prepare the ground: personally I recommend that you dig, possibly moving the clods without turning them over, use a digging fork to do less effort. Then you should sprinkle some mature manure or compost, if you don't have any, I suggest you buy earthworm humus, alternatively pelleted manure), finally hoe, refining the surface and mixing soil and fertilizer. At this point you are ready to start cultivating. If you want to learn more, you can read a more complete guide on how to prepare the soil for the garden.
How to save time and effort
Finally, I try to give you some useful advice to save time by cultivating, they are perhaps obvious suggestions but I assure you that they make a difference.
- Choose resistant varieties. If you sow plants of ancient varieties or in any case predisposed to be resistant to the main diseases you will have less problems.
- Choose plants with specific growth. Avoid planting climbing varieties, so you don't have to worry about making supports, tying the plants, keeping them pruned.
- Use mulch. Manual control of weeds is one of the most tedious and time-consuming jobs in gardening, if you cover the soil around the plants you will save a lot of time. Use natural materials: I recommend jute sheets, which spread quickly, otherwise straw.
- Automate irrigation. If you can, install a small drip irrigation system, perhaps with a timer. This can save you from wasting time irrigating. In the summer it means considerable time savings, even if you will have to invest time and money to set it up.
- Start with the seedlings. Obviously, as you have already noticed, if you buy the seedlings you save time. Reluctantly, I also leave you this advice, since there is nothing more extraordinary than seeing the seeds germinate.