Compost your Halloween pumpkin
Don't bury your jack o lantern alive in a landfill graveyard. Make it part of the living dead by converting it to compost, the most ecologically-friendly fertilizer there is.
How to compost your pumpkin
If you already have a backyard compost bin or pile, you know the drill. If not, check with your municipal waste management service to see if they collect compostable materials for their own composting facility. Many farmers markets also have a drop-off spot for compostable materials so check with them. If you'd like to start your own backyard compost, learn more at GreenYour's guide to making your own compost. If you're just getting started with your Halloween pumpkin, follow these steps:
- Scoop out the seeds and insides. If you've used your pumpkin as a jack o lantern, this step is already done. If not, make sure you remove the seeds before composting, as they will sprout if you do not. Don't let the insides go to waste: You can roast the seeds for a tasty treat, and use the flesh from the inside to make soup or other dishes.
- Be sure to remove candles and wax from the inside and decorations from the outside before composting.
- Cut or smash the pumpkin into small pieces. Left whole, the pumpkin may start to mold.
- Find a place in your yard to compost. You'll need to find a place where a pile of decomposing pumpkin and leaves will not detract from your landscaping and has good drainage and adequate sunshine in the winter.
- Add fallen leaves to the pumpkin pieces in your chosen spot. Avoid large sticks and branches as they take a long time to decompose.
- Add more organic matter as you can. Kitchen scraps, like fruit and vegetable peels, work nicely, as does yard waste, egg shells, coffee grounds, and newspaper.
- You can place this compost pile in a container, like a garbage pail, or a composting bin if you choose. This is not necessary but will make it easier to collect and spread to your lawn and garden in the spring.
- Your compost is ready to use when it looks like dark, crumbly soil.
Find it! Compost bins and tools
Composting your Halloween pumpkin helps you go green because…
- It keeps biodegradable matter out of the landfill and allows it to break down into fertilizer to encourage the growth of other plants.
More than 1.7 billion pounds of pumpkins were sold in the US between 2004 and 2006, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). (Total production dropped to 1.1 billion pounds in 2007 because of excessive rain or drought.) Eighty percent of the pumpkins supply sold annually in the US are sold in October.
- Videojug - How to Hot Compost Watch a video on how to make hot compost.
- Compost Guide - A Complete Guide to Composting Read about how to compost, what to compost, and troubleshooting tips.
- The New York City Compost Project A fantastic resource funded by the New York City Department of Sanitation that's geared toward urbanites interested in composting.