We officially made it through another Halloween. Now I have a sad looking pumpkin sitting on my front porch that the squirrels have been chewing on. This year, instead of tossing it into the forest, I am going to try some different ways to make the most of my pumpkin.
The obvious answer is to compost it. Pumpkins are a great source of organic matter as they start to breakdown in the composters. The fact that they have a lot of water in their structure helps speed the process up even more. Unfortunately, my composter is bursting at the seams from all of the plant material that I pulled out of my garden, so I am going to try a different technique. I am going straight into the ground with my jack-o-lantern this year.
To do this, choose a spot in the yard that will be easy to dig, preferably far enough away from a tree that the roots won’t stop your shovel, but still relatively close to your garden so that the plants will benefit from the extra nutrients. Dig a hole that is at least as wide as the pumpkin and about six inches deeper so that nothing will dig it up once you’ve buried it.
Next, fill your pumpkin with all of your kitchen organics, like egg shells, old bread, even dryer lint. Bury everything in the hole, level the top and walk away. Mother Nature does the rest by breaking down all of the organic matter into something your plants and trees can process.
Alternatively, you can use your spent jack-o-lantern to feed the wildlife. As you’ve probably already noticed, squirrels and chipmunks love pumpkin. Birds do too, if the flesh is fine enough for them to eat. Chop your pumpkin up into one to two-inch cubes and toss them in the freezer. This winter, keep putting frozen cubes out for the squirrels at the back of your property. They will happily steal them for a vitamin-packed snack during the toughest part of the year.
As for the birds, heat up those frozen cubes and mash them into a pulp. Jays and chickadees love the sweetness and are attracted to the bright colour. In my case, I use the chopped up pieces in a mash that I feed to my chickens along with some old bananas and left over oatmeal.
The one thing you don’t want to do with your waxy, spent pumpkins is to throw them into a garbage bag. Not only is it a waste of something that can provide so much more than just decoration one day a year, but we all need to try and find ways to reduce the amount we send to the landfill each year.
Starting with a pumpkin just makes sense.
Carson Arthur is an international landscape designer and media personality with a focus on environmentally friendly design and low maintenance outdoor rooms.