Harvest basket craft

Oct 12, 2009 at 9:29 p.m. ET

If you want to impress your guests with a beautiful harvest basket on your Thanksgiving table, spend a little time watching your garden grow. Peg Fisher tells you how to do it, from planting the seeds to harvesting the bounty and assembling a beautiful fall harvest basket.

Begin with varieties of seeds

As a gardener, I really enjoy making decorations from my own homegrown produce. One of the things I'm particularly fond of is growing miniatures, like miniature pumpkins (Jack Be Little is a popular variety, available from Johnny's Select Seeds) and miniature Indian corn (Little Jewels and Wampum are varieties available from Johnny's also). Once I've grown them, I make them into harvest baskets, like the one illustrated. Small gourds can be used, too.

First I'll talk about seed varieties to grow, and then about putting together the harvest basket once the seeds have produced flowers and veggies for you.

I save my own seeds now - no, I'm not the Earth Mother, I just like growing my own open pollinated seeds. However, for people just getting started, Johnny's offers quality seeds. I'm not on their staff, I just like their catalog and products.

Flowers for easy drying

For statice, Blue Seas, and the Pacific and Sunset mixes are attractive colors. For Gomphrena, also called Globe Amaranth, both Bicolor Rose and Strawberry Fields are colorful additions to the usual whites, pinks and purples. Add some downunder wonder with Helichrysums, also known as strawflowers. These blooms are native to Australia, and air dry very easily, with excellent color retention all year long. Victorian Pastels are an attractive mix of soft colors, while if fiery is more your style, try the Salsa strawflower mix with hot colors.

For foliage, the silvery white leaves of dusty miller make an attractive accent, or add a pleasant aroma with sprigs of the artemisia variety Sweet Annie.

Ok, so you got your seeds, grew your flowers and veggies, and dried everything - now what's next?

(No chance to grow this year? Pick up a bunch of dried flowers at a craft store or farmer's market stand, get a little pumpkin or a small gourd at the grocery store, and make a basket this way too, while picking out seeds for next year.)

Basket arranging instructions

This is a very simple project that even young children can complete, while adults enjoy it as well.

1. Get a small (4 to 6 inch diameter) shallow basket. Local thrift stores often have very inexpensive baskets available, or you can buy new ones in the craft section of most large department stores. Line the bottom of the basket with a layer of crumpled tissue paper or paper towels.

2. Center the pumpkin in the basket, on the tissue layer.

3. Arrange the flowers around the pumpkin in the basket. You can do this one of two ways. Either glue them in with water based white glue as you go, (it dries colorless), or leave the flowers loose. If left loose, you can take the pumpkin out later, when it finally starts to wrinkle after several months. Then you can rearrange the flowers to fill in the center of the basket. If you use glue, and glue the flowers to each other, rather than to the pumpkin, you may still be able to pop the pumpkin loose, then refill the space with more flowers or Indian corn.

So, the pumpkin's in the basket, and ringed with flowers - you did it! When finished, place on a counter or table and enjoy a burst of color to brighten the graying fall days.