The slow unravelling of a badly knitted jumper has the same tack as the treatment of our ramshackle small town plot. It’s our cobbler’s child; forever bumped down the to-do list.

The nursery area sown with green manure The nursery area sown with green manure Photograph: Catharine Howard

Yesterday was spent at the Apricot Centre for teaching permaculture. I came away with a strong sense that the snail pace is right for our garden. The old owner Reg had died without heirs and left his money to the Woodland Trust. Pre house-clearance, his shoes were still by one of the beds. I feel I have put them on. The plants get fed with his Maxicrop and I pot at his bench into his pots and have only just used up all his compost. I feel sure that Reg was a permaculture man and he’s passed on a care of keeping.

It has been a funny year for the weather – our heeled-in maiden fruit trees waited and waited for the ground to thaw to plant in situ. Then the summer blustered in. For tasks, the last months have notched up the levelling of a large pile of earth, bricks and rubble embedded in true builder’s top soil from flattening the courtyard at the top, dumped in a dry spell back in February. It has become a nursery area by the potting shed. The idea is to have a place for experimenting with sowing and for trialling plants.

The newly levelled courtyard The newly levelled courtyard Photograph: Catharine Howard

With propagation in mind, I have taken a radical step. In July the long-hoarded car fund went. Installed and commanding the defensive height over the garden, one new red cedar greenhouse went up. At 10ft by 8ft, so far it has been a large playpen for wasps and flies. Meanwhile the dogs (we have two now) run round the outside and sometimes aim to take a flying shortcut through the glass. Fortunately the pug is rubbery and resilient. Meanwhile I am impatient for the seed-sowing next spring.

We have sown green manure, patches of lawn and fought back bramble tendrils when they reach out and scratch. Troop manoeuvres in our garden are carried out under the skies of winter. The next spate of plant orders and slash and burning of the unkempt corners is about to begin. My thoughts turn to hedging and the removal of the last briar patch. A first order of perennials is with my favourite nursery and I am twitching to turn my attention to our old shoe of a garden.