The German Harvest Basket with its large wood spinner handle is probably one of the best, if not the best, garden tool you have ever owned. Just like so many other items found here at Harvesting History, such as the metal basket, this large wooden container has a fascinating history. Although we don’t know exactly how it was used or what it was for, but we do know that it had a dramatic impact on European culture.
And we also know that it was used for a very important purpose:
For nearly three centuries, the wooden basket was a mainstay of farming and storage in Europe, even in times of economic crisis. This means that there must have been a lot of use put into them. But just where did this important utensil go after that? Or rather, where did this tool end up before it was replaced by more practical metal tools? Find out today!
Harvest baskets were originally made from straw, reed or plants such as the potato. They were woven tightly, so that they could be used as primary basket materials. They were used in order to hold supplies such as grain, liquids, fruits, vegetables, seeds, and other crop products. They were commonly used by farmers, because they were an easy to carry from one place to another. In fact, some communities still use them today.
the baskets used at this time were not typically decorated
However, the harvesting basket didn’t become popular until the early Renaissance, where it was combined with iron to make a new and stronger material. Before then, a wooden basket was generally made using materials that were more affordable and easily available. This included the local wood that was in plentiful supply, such as the oak tree. The sturdiness of these baskets would depend on the quality of the wood and the amount of attention that were placed on the decoration of each individual part of the basket. Also, the baskets used at this time were not typically decorated, so the contents were often plain or simply presented as is.
After the introduction of iron to the world, basket manufacture greatly increased, as the demand for supplies increased along with it. This period saw the creation of baskets that were designed more for aesthetic appeal than strength, meaning that even the handle was no longer of importance, as long as the basket itself was sturdy enough to carry whatever was placed inside. These may have appeared on carts and wagons before being replaced with wicker baskets, but the designs were essentially the same. If there were to be major improvements to the design, they may have been gradual, rather than dramatic.
While the use of harvesting baskets for carrying food has been around for a long time, the use of this particular basket for carrying goods has certainly not fade away. Today, they are still used by many people for the simple reason that they are practical, they can be painted just as easily as any other basket and they are very simple to make yourself if you have a good kit. Also, they do not take up much storage space, which is always a bonus. If you would like to add your own personal touch to the basket, then you will find that it really is possible to make a variety of different baskets, whether they are decorated or not.