Handy Tools to Haul Your Heavy Harvest

| October/November 2005

Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

– Nursery Rhyme by Mother Goose

Containers to hold and haul the garden’s bounty have been employed since long before Peter Piper filled his peck basket. It appears that the ancient crafts of pottery and basketry rose up in human practice almost simultaneously.

From the first harvest when baskets made lighter work of the hauling and storing, gardeners have relied on sturdy, lightweight and portable containers to help them bring home the crops. Since the 19th century, British wooden trugs have carted flowers and herbs; soft, collapsible bins have served orchard workers for a century or more; and lately, heavy-duty plastic is proving to be very practical for harvesting garden produce.

As with all cool tools, function dictates form. Gardeners transport everything from herbs and flowers, vegetables and fruit, to gloves, hats and hand tools — and their choice of containers is as varied as the jobs they perform.


The word trug originates from ‘trog’, the Old English word meaning boat-shaped. The modern trug basket appeared sometime around the middle 1800s in the small town of Herstmonceux in East Sussex, UK. Chestnut is the material of choice for Sussex trugs, which are still handmade (see www.GardenTalk.com/ trugs.htm for more information).

Trugs are shallow, long and slender to keep delicate flowers in one or two layers, protecting them from being crushed by their own weight. The deep handle is crafted to sit comfortably in the crook of the arm, allowing both hands to snip herbs, flowers and salad greens. North American trugs are made of lightweight ash slats, or woven from sturdy reeds, leather, fabric, plastic, wire or steel mesh.

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