During this busy harvesting period, it can be very useful to have a harvesting basket on hand. But rather than buying one to use in your garden, it could be fun to consider making your own. You may be able make your own rustic harvesting basket using materials from your very own garden, or the surrounding area.
There are a range of different options when it comes to which materials you use. In this article, we will briefly explore some of the different craft ideas that you could consider, to inspire you, as a gardener, to venture beyond growing food and think about other resources that can be gleaned from your garden.
Basket making is obviously a skilled craft which takes years to learn how to do perfectly. However, making a rustic basket to use in your garden is easier than you might think, and even if your creations are not perfect, they can be useful nonetheless. And the project can be a fun one to take on.
Make a Rustic Harvesting Basket From Willow Whips
Willow basketry is an age old craft. If you have some willow growing in your garden you should definitely give it a go. There are a number of different ways to get started, and a number of different patterns which can be woven into a design. Willow is a popular choice for basketry because it makes a very sturdy basket when dried.
The first thing is to harvest your willow stems. A coppice of various types of willow in your garden can provide a yearly harvest of young stems, or whips, which can be used in basketry. Collect your whips by cutting them off near the base.
Willow shoots shrink when they dry out for the first time, and if you weave with them without drying them first, the basket can become gappy and will not be as strong. Dry them for several weeks before you begin your project. You will then need to rehydrate your willow whips before you begin to use them, by soaking them for a few days until they are pliable and bend easily without breaking.
Once your willow whips are ready, you can start to weave your basket. You will easily be able to find clear instructions and instructional videos for basketry weaving and precise patterns to follow online. Remember, your baskets do not have to be perfect, and you can have fun as you learn more about this ancient craft.
Make a Rustic Basket From Bramble Stems
Of course, not everyone has access to willow in their gardens. But that does not mean that they cannot still give basket making a go. A number of other pliable stems and branches can be used to make rustic baskets to use in your garden. For example, one material that many people may have access to is blackberry brambles.
Bramble stems, from thornless blackberry varieties, or regular brambles which have been carefully stripped on their thorns can be dried and used in much the same way as willow whips to make a sturdy basket. You can also make a simple and rustic basket using blackberry stems in the green – fresh and not dried. This has the benefit of allowing you to create a basket right away – perhaps even as a way of carrying some of the blackberries that you want to harvest home.
Split Wood Basketry (With Hazel, Ash etc..)
If you are feeling more ambitious and more ready to take on a more complex craft project, then you might want to look into split wood basketry, or making bark baskets. These are more complex crafts which will usually require some tools. But these ideas are also great ways to make use of some of the natural materials that you may have around you in your garden.
Baskets were made traditionally in different ways in different areas. You may wish to look into the materials and the techniques which were traditionally used in your own particular area.
Natural Woven Baskets
If the above seems a little too complex for you to take on, you might wish to consider making a more simple natural woven basket. For this project, all you will require is a large needle or bodkin, and natural materials. You will need two different types of natural material to take on this type of project. Firstly, you will need a core material, which will be coiled around to make a basket shape. Next, you will need a thread, yarn or twine to tie this coil together.
One simple idea is to use dried grass stems (something many people can have access to in their gardens) for the core. Other stems, like lavender stems for example, can also be used. You could also use a natural twine (made from nettles for example) to bind this core together and make your basket. You can also use nettles for both the core of the coil and the binding for your coil basket.
Dry then soak the stems or other materials you have chosen to use for your core. Then give them a twist together, and begin to coil them round. Pass the twine you are using around this core material into the centre and back out. This is to make sure that each coil you make is connected to the one inside it.
The great thing about a project like this is that there are few hard and fast rules. You can experiment a little with different natural materials from your garden. And have some fun seeing the different rustic harvesting basket types that you can make.
The baskets you make at first will naturally look very hand-made, and not like those you can buy. But the uniqueness of the baskets you make is just part of their rustic charm. They can still be very functional items once you get the hang of it.
Obviously, in this article, I have not gone into how you actually create any of these baskets in any depth. I hope, however, these ideas inspire you to look further into the natural basketry options that you could consider. Soon you could be using materials you can gather for free from your own garden or the natural surroundings in your area.
A garden can provide you and your family with more than just food. It can help you out with the materials you need to live in a more natural, sustainable and self-reliant way. Making your own rustic harvesting basket could be a great skill building exercise. And can help you make sure you really are using your garden to the fullest.
Do you have basketry skills? Do you have any tips to share with those trying it out for the first time? Which materials and techniques do you like to use? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.
To get in touch, visit https://ewspconsultancy.com.