March - Willow Twigs for Baskets
I collect willow for basket making in March, after the snow is melted a bit, but before the sap starts to rise. Once the sap begins to flow, the bark is too easily marred, so I leave them until after they've leafed out. This will be in late May to mid June.
Once I harvest the rods, I sort them into different sizes, so I can quickly see what I have, in numbers and in the sizes I need.
Generally, I have two grades - the smaller ones go into the grade to use for weavers, and the larger ones can either be used as is, or split for the form for the basket.
The rods can be stored until later in the spring or summer if they're in a damp cool shed, or dried to be re-soaked at any time. The different looks you get from the various methods is what makes basketmaking with wildcrafted materials so fascinating.