How to Make a Homemade Herb Basket

Make these easy, practical containers for harvesting or gift giving.

| August/September 1997

This fall, when your garden is overflowing with the season’s bounty and you find yourself in need of some sturdy baskets to hold it all, look no farther than your recycling bin. In as little as five to ten minutes, you can easily transform ordinary brown grocery sacks into attractive, functional, and surprisingly strong baskets that are perfect for gift giving. Cut, fold, and tie, and you’ve got a basket. You’ll think of so many uses for them that you may never look at a grocery sack the same way again. If you’re like me, you’re probably delighted to find a use for all those brown paper bags that accumulate under the sink or behind the ­refrigerator.

I first discovered these ingenious sack-baskets in an old Brownie Girl Scout manual from the 1950s. Three grocery sacks nest together, the sides folded or rolled down to different heights. A fourth sack, with the bottom cut off and the sides folded down, becomes the handle. Because the basket is three bags thick and because the handle is attached as a loop, without seams, this sack-basket can hold a lot more weight than you might think.

I make these baskets for my own use as well as whenever I give away something from my garden or kitchen. In fact, they’re indispensable. I’ve tucked potted seedlings, fresh-cut herbs, homemade herbal bread or muffins, cookies, or jellies into sack-baskets. I’ve filled them with crackers and popcorn for outdoor parties. I’ve made small ones from lunch bags and filled them with potpourri, party favors, or small pres­ents. At fall dinner parties, a small one at each place setting can hold nuts and spices while a larger one serves as a centerpiece filled with colorful leaves, gourds, and small pumpkins. I sometimes take one to the farmer’s market and fill it with vegetables. People always appreciate receiving a basketful of natural beauty products made with ingredients from my garden. When I teach classes on herbal crafts, I carry my supplies and props in these baskets; I often find that my students are more intrigued by the baskets themselves than by what’s in them.

I’ve taught paper-sack basketry to children of all ages. The baskets are so simple that anyone can do it, and because they’re quick, they hold the attention of even small children. The kids in my Girl Scout troop enjoy making and decorating them. My daughter filled one that she made with small potted plants and gave it to her teacher.

Any size or color of sacks will work. If your grocery bags are imprinted with an advertisement or a store logo, so what? You can roll the sides all the way down to hide any printing on the bag or let it show to add to the character of the finished sack-basket.

Sometimes, when I’ve been in a hurry, I’ve just stapled or glued a basket together and still ended up with a fairly sturdy construction. Even unadorned, the baskets are attractive and appealing.

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