See also other gardening pages:
Gardening photographs 1
Gardening photographs 2
Gardening photographs 3
Gardening photographs 4
Bed and board
Plant-protection cages with flexible supports
Cloches and a triangular greenhouse
Composting and rainwater collecting
Some design principles in gardening
Transframe is an exceptionally versatile modular system which allows the construction of many different pieces of equipment for use by gardeners - and people without a garden. Supports, panels and other attachments are bolted in place through pre-drilled holes. Most of the uses (not all) are shown in the adjoining panel in red print.
The two photographs on the right show only one use of the Transframe, as a growing cabinet. Here, the growing cabinet is placed on the soil, but it can equally well be placed on a hard surface, such as a patio, with growing bags used for the crop. (In this case, supports are used with rectangular rather than pointed ends.) The growing cabinet is far more substantial than any of the usual 'mini-greenhouses,' even though it's inexpensive. Although it's quite heavy, its separate units can be carried very easily. Disassembling the growing cabinet and reassembling it can be carried out quickly - or units can be put together to construct another piece of equipment.
The growing cabinet will be useful to people with no land for growing at all, people with land but no greenhouse, and people who have a greenhouse but who need to rest the soil. This is my own situation at the moment. After growing tomatoes in the greenhouse for three years, there's the risk - or the certainty - of virus diseases if I continue to grow tomatoes in the greenhouse soil
. The growing cabinet with medium supports isn't tall enough for cordon (indeterminate) tomato plants grown in the usual way, vertically, but it is tall enough for bush (determinate) tomato plants and cordon varieties grown horizontally. Wild tomatoes, in their native habitat, aren't supported, of course, and grow along the ground. The growing cabinet can also be used for many other crops, to give just one example, lettuces grown in autumn and early winter.
Not shown in the photographs is the self-watering system, made up of a gutter which clips to one end of the growing cabinet (this obviously has to be slightly lower than the other end) and a tube leading to seep hose laid on the soil, or inserted into growing bags.
The adjoining diagrams give information about supports and other attachments.
Making a table with transframe is very easy. If the growing cabinet is the starting point, the PVC side panels and top panel are removed, leaving the frame, with medium supports. A panel with wooden boards is simply placed on the frame. There are holes at the corners and bolts are dropped into place to secure the panel, without the need to tighten nuts on the bolts. Seen from above:
The boards can be covered with two sheets of exterior grade plywood to give a smooth surface:
Tables are very useful in gardening but generally very much underused. They can be used when harvesting potatoes and many other crops. When the potatoes are dry, they can be dropped into bags from the table very easily. When a table is needed for open-air eating and drinking, the Transform can provide one very quickly. I have a cider-press and other cider-making equipment. Without a table, the operations of quartering the apples, preliminary chopping of the apples in the scratter machine and use of the cider press itself are more difficult. A table isn't usually needed on a daily basis. When the table is no longer required, the components can be used for other purposes.
Alternatively, when the table is not in use, it can be covered with a PVC panel. This forms the top panel of the growing cabinet, increasing the temperature inside the panel by the greenhouse effect, but now with a different function, as a water collector. A section of guttering attached to the panel collects water from the panel. More information about the panel below.
The top panel with boards can be removed, inverted and used as a path, a boardwalk, complete with wooden edging. Sections of boardwalk are shown in the photographs on the right. They are laid on black weed-control fabric. It's common to put wood-chips on black fabric, since the fabric on its own looks unsightly, but the wood-chips soon begin to break down and weeds grow very readily. A wooden boardwalk puts an end to the problem of weeds growing on the path, and the chore of frequently clearing weeds on a path.
If the frame alone is used with short supports, then it becomes the edging for a bed, marking the boundary of the bed. The frame is supported, rather than being laid directly on the soil surface, so that it's above the level of the soil. The wood of the frame will last much longer. The usual method of constructing timber edges for beds has the disadvantage of exposing the timber to soil water.
Transframe becomes a composter when the frame is used with medium supports, no panels - except, possibly, a PVC panel on top for water-collection (please see below) - and horizontal members. Four boards - the ones used as a table top and for constructing the boardwalk - are bolted to light horizontal supports to make the horizontal members.(The separate boards not shown in this diagram):
Water-collection has become more and more important to gardeners. The idea that water butts and other similar containers filled by rainfall (or other precipitation) can make a serious contribution to water conservation is obviously false, unless rainfall is exceptionally heavy for long periods of time. In most circumstances, in this country and others, after months of average rainfall, the water butt won't have collected very much water at all. This is obviously due to the fact that the surface area of the water butt is small. The PVC upper surface of the growing cabinet described above is considerably larger, and can make a more substantial contribution to saving water.
This collecting surface can be used for various other functions of the Transframe. The PVC surface, with gutter and tube, can be used, for example, on the table, the composter and the netting protection system. The water in this case isn't directed to the soil (or growing bags). The pipe feeds the water into a plastic container. The plastic container can be placed on a lightweight trolley, which is easily obtainable. The trolley can be wheeled to wherever the water is needed. This 'wheeled watering can' avoids the effort of carrying a heavy watering can full of water.
Transframe with boarded sides can be used for 'hiding and disguising,' with a variety of useful functions. One use is for disguising a container storing garden tools. Another use concerns water collection and storage. Old baths are often used for this purpose on allotments, a very practical way of storing water but very unsightly.
I think that the appeararance of a garden or allotment is important - the beauty of a garden or allotment is important, if it can be attained, despite the fact that this beauty is of an impermanent kind. if the transframe supports are splayed, then transframe can effectively hide an unsightly bath. Although a PVC top-panel obviously isn't needed for water-collection - the use of a top-panel with plywood sheets underneath disguises the bath more effectively. Water is diverted from the top-panel to the path by means of the guttering attached and a tube.
Obviously, financial factors may be decisive. Anybody who gardens and has no money to spare to hide a bath has every reason to feel that this is a luxury.
I prefer netting protection for crops with structures which have curved supports. Gardeners who prefer rectilinear structures can fix long supports to transframe and easily construct a walk-in (or smaller) netting cage. In this case, the frame itself isn't bolted at the top of the structure but much lower down, nearer to the soil surface. On the right is a photograph and information about transframe used to protect carrots against the carrot fly, the worst pest of carrots.
Transframe as a chicken run, with wire netting panels on the sides and a wire netting panel, or solid, water-resistant panel on top, is suitable for small chicken varieties ('bantams.') The chicken run is restricted in width, but not in length, if two units are placed end to end. This specialist use, as well as its use to construct a chicken house, isn't described further here. Transframe can also be used for housing some other livestock, or some pets, such as rabbits. These uses are a striking demonstration of the versatility of the system.
I don't provide information here about how to construct the components of Transframe. This is quite a straightforward matter, and with one exception, common tools are all that's required.