A-Tisket, A-Tasket, The Perfect Garden Harvest Basket
There's one question I get asked every single day on social media, and it's not how to keep pests at bay or how to grow lettuce. It's where I got my harvest basket (usually followed by something like "I have to have one!" or "It's stunning.")
While a good harvest basket plays a useful role in our gardening tasks—that is, holding all the delicious food we grew ourselves—the attention my own basket gets shows that it can also be something more than that.
A beautiful harvest basket elevates a chore to an experience.
In the same way we want our raised-bed kitchen gardens to be both aesthetically appealing and productive, we want our harvest baskets to be both functional and stunning. We want our harvest baskets to inspire us to dash outside every single day to tend something and snip some herbs for dinner. When you grip the handle of the right harvest basket, you should be able to visualize all the things you'll soon be harvesting just as easily as you can when you sow a seed or water in a transplant.
Once that harvest is a reality, your harvest basket will be just as important in displaying all your veggies as it is in transporting them.
What to Look for in a Vegetable Harvest Basket
If you have a kitchen garden, then there's always something you can cut, whether that's sprigs of fresh herbs or clusters of cherry tomatoes climbing a trellis. Your basket is not something to pull out of storage and dust off once a year in the late summer for an annual harvest; it'll see weekly, if not daily, use. It will make hundreds of trips between your kitchen garden and your kitchen sink.
The ideal harvest basket, therefore is easy to carry and easy to clean in addition to being beautiful.
There are three types of baskets that generally meet these requirements: the right-sized carry-all, the garden trug, and the garden hod. You're probably already familiar with carry-alls, so let's meet the gardening trug first.
What is a garden trug?
A trug is a shallow rectangular or oval basket made of strips of wood. It features a large handle and is traditionally used to carry cut flowers, produce, and garden tools.
My harvest basket (pictured above) is a trug that I found at El Paso Import Co. when I was living in Houston, but I have not seen them carry this exact product since. They change up their inventory frequently, so check their website if you're interested in something similar. As of writing, this vintage wooden apple basket made of bamboo is the closest piece I could find, though it's too deep to be considered a trug.
What is a garden hod?
Hods were originally used by clam diggers in Maine to hold and easily rinse their catch. Now, they make elegant and convenient gathering baskets for cut flowers and garden harvests.
This traditional hod from Gardener's Supply Company is made in New England from pine and maple and features food-grade, vinyl-covered mesh along the bottom and sides for easy veggie cleaning.
Another traditional garden hod option is this hand-crafted pine and maple garden carry-all from Terrain.
Elevate your backyard veggie patch into a sophisticated and stylish work of art
Kitchen Garden Revival guides you through every aspect of kitchen gardening, from design to harvesting—with expert advice from author Nicole Johnsey Burke, founder of Rooted Garden, one of the leading US culinary landscape companies, and Gardenary, an online kitchen gardening education and resource company.
Let's look at some top harvest basket selections
The Most Beautiful Large Harvest Basket
I have a harvest basket very similar to the vintage basket with handle from Arhaus. This basket is handwoven by artisans from natural arurog reeds and finished with an elegant dark stain.
The Best Garden Harvest Basket for Mobility Issues
If you have a bad back or any kind of mobility issue that makes carrying a heavy basket a challenge, this mobile harvest basket seems like the solution for you.
The Mod Hod Trolley allows you to roll three baskets around on a lightweight aluminum frame. It lays flat between uses, so you could even pop it into your trunk and take it to the farmers' market with you.
The Most Elegant Flower Trug
I love the simple chicness of this Esschert Design flower trug, available on Amazon. The flat bottom is ideal for large kale and swiss chard leaves, plus all your cut flowers. You'll feel like you're gardening in the French countryside—I can almost smell the lavender fields just looking at this gray wicker basket.
Join Gardenary 365 to take our Cut Flower Gardens course. In this online course, you will learn how to grow, harvest, and arrange cut flowers. You'll also have access to our complete Gardenary course library inside 365.
Just One More... A Special Flower Harvest Basket
I had to include this vintage-inspired galvanized flower caddy from Gardener's Supply Company, made specifically for bringing cut flowers indoors or displaying long-stemmed seasonal bouquets. The galvanized steel design is food-safe for your edible flowers, rustproof, and watertight.
Fill each of the four French-flower-market-inspired buckets with fresh water so that your blooms stay fresh until you bring them indoors.
Now, let's talk materials
What's the Best Material for a Harvest Basket?
Wicker might be one of the most beautiful options for material, but it's not the easiest to clean if you're going to be slinging dirt-covered carrots into your harvest basket every day.
In addition to ease of cleaning, something else to consider is the weight of the basket material. Will you be harvesting a lot of heavy fruits?
Let's look at different materials and weigh the benefits of each. We've got links to options in every material, to suite every budget and every need.
The Wire Harvest Basket
Wire harvest baskets are sturdy, easy to clean, and long lasting. While they can carry a lot of heavy vegetables, they're not ideal for small fruits like cherry tomatoes, which might easily slip out or get caught between the rungs.
The Sophie Conran large harvest basket from Williams Sonoma is an elegant take on a traditional wire harvest basket.
The Metal Harvest Basket
Solid metal harvest baskets are the definition of durable, plus they're easy to clean and lack the small holes that could damage your more delicate produce.
The vintage-inspired garden trug from Garrett Wade was modeled after a 1950 English design found in an antique store and is made of galvanized steel for a shiny finish that oozes retro vibes. The handle swivels so that you can sling it over your arm at harvest time.
If you're a fan of copper, this Good Directions garden basket trug is handcrafted from pure copper and available on Amazon. Its aged finish will deepen over time, but this trug will last forever.
The Plastic Harvest Basket
Plastic harvest baskets might just be practical enough for you to overlook their lack of elegance. Plastic, especially polypropylene, is obviously strong, long lasting, easy to clean, and inexpensive. A major bonus is that you can use the basket like a colander to hose off your harvests outdoors before bringing them inside.
The Mod Hod from Gardener's Supply Company is a stackable, polypropylene take on the traditional hod, making for easy storage of garden-fresh produce. It features fold-out legs to keep your harvest off the ground and allow for better drainage after washing. Besides being the most stylish plastic harvest basket I could find, the Mod Hod comes with one incredible design advantage: it can be stacked onto the trolley I featured above.
The Wicker Harvest Basket
There is no more classic harvest basket material than wicker, and for good reason. Wicker is gentle on produce, beautiful, and strong enough to hold heavy harvests.
The one criteria that wicker scores low on is ease of cleaning. You don't want to soak wicker in water, so you'll have to bring dry harvests inside to clean in your kitchen sink and settle for wiping your basket down with a slightly damp cloth. If your wicker gets wet, set it out under direct sunlight for several hours to prevent mold.
This rustic shallow wicker basket from Amish Baskets is as decorative as it is functional, and the square shape makes it a standout. Each basket is signed by the craftsperson who created it.
A stylish take on the English trug, this wicker gathering basket from the Basket Lady is designed to carry freshly cut greens and veggies from the garden or display cut flowers as a centerpiece. It's made from sturdy rattan and has a strong wooden handle.
Arhaus's gathering basket is hand-woven from madras-kalas in Indonesia and looks just as stunning empty as it would filled with leaves and fruits from the garden.
Available on Amazon, Nutley's rustic willow vegetable trug is handmade entirely from sustainable resources, including a handle and stand sourced from one complete willow branch.
The Wooden Garden Trug
Like wicker, larger strips of wood woven into a harvest basket make for a beautiful piece of art. The flat surface is gentler on delicate fruits and berries and easy to wipe down with a damp cloth, though, again, wood should never be soaking wet. Depending on the type of wood and the size of the basket, you risk these harvest baskets getting heavy.
Few pieces prove that beauty is in the simplicity more than this wooden garden trug from Garden Artisans. The lightweight and sturdy carrying basket is handcrafted in Oregon from myrtle wood, coated with food-safe mineral oil, and held together with solid copper nails.
Another handcrafted option is the garden harvest caddy from Amish Baskets. The leather straps make for comfortable carrying, and the vintage design means you can display this basket around your home. I recommend buying a fitted liner (sold separately) so that you can clean without damaging the weave.
The Fabric Harvest Basket
Fabric baskets are great for light harvests and trips to the farmers' market for leafy greens. Fabric is gentle on the delicate flesh of fruits like tomatoes and can be folded up for easy storage.
Like wicker, most fabric baskets will be hard to clean and should not be soaked.
This handmade harvest tote from Etsy is made with 100 percent cotton cord and can be hand-dyed in shades of indigo, goldenrod and pine using eco-friendly dye.
Where to Find a Vintage Harvest Basket
Now that you have a better idea what to search for, you can find a wide selection of vintage harvest baskets on Etsy or Ebay. Because these are vintage, they're pre-owned and sold as single units, so I won't link to them here.
Start a free trial of Gardenary 365 today to try out our new online gardening course, Kitchen Garden to Table. Learn how to harvest and prepare leaves, roots, veggies, and fruits for the tastiest garden-fresh meals ever. You'll also have access to our complete Gardenary course library inside 365.
Time to Take Some Beautiful Harvest Photos
Whether you're cutting long-stemmed flowers, collecting sprigs of herbs, or picking cherry tomatoes, the second best way to celebrate your garden's bounty is by taking a picture of your harvest arranged in your trug or hod. (The first best way to celebrate is, of course, by eating it.)
Bonus: your harvest basket can do double duty by toting produce at the farmers' market, carrying supplies or tools out to the garden, or holding a picnic to share with friends.
Get your harvest snips and your camera ready for all the beautiful leaves, roots, and fruits you're about to bring inside. When you do, show us your harvest basket by tagging us @gardenaryco on Instagram.
Thanks for helping us bring back the kitchen garden!
Some of the links in this article are Amazon affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you click on the link and purchase the item. The links to stores outside of Amazon are not affiliated—they're just products I really like. All opinions remain my own.