Don’t Trash That Pumpkin! It Could Be Next Year’s Harvest.


Pumpkins on the front step. It is a familiar site right now. They are traditional décor for both Halloween and Thanksgiving. In the U.S. alone, there are 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkin produced annually. While most are processed for consumption, a good portion of that number ends up adorning our front entrances. I like to keep my uncarved pumpkins until Thanksgiving. It’s my way of holding off Christmas and trying to focus on a non-gift giving holiday.


As a University of Idaho advanced Master Gardener and Master Food Safety Advisor, I’ve learned that gone are the days of sending a Jack O’lantern to the landfill. Before trashing that pumpkin, switch gears and consider other EASY options. Compost the carved ones. If your carved pumpkins are like mine, they have started to decay. If so, it’s not advisable to use that squash in any kind of recipe. But if you cut it up, it will compost nicely.



If your pumpkins are whole, eat them! They are edible. Pie pumpkin varieties are the most delicious of pumpkin types. But, the Internet is filled with recipes—even for the common carving pumpkin. Save the seeds! Roast them. They are tasty, too.

Ultimately, my favorite way to take care of my pumpkin décor is to upcycle them! This is the perfect method to have a fabulous pumpkin patch with very little effort. Place your old pumpkin where you would like them to grow next season. During the winter and spring, the pumpkin will decompose and reseed itself. Your chickens may even help in the process—the evidence is hard to ignore.


In the Spring, you’ll have several pumpkin starts. They will all have a robust root system. Pull up all but the largest, strongest start, in the bunch. In a matter of months, you’ll have a very hearty pumpkin patch. If you can keep your dog from getting cozy in the patch, you’ll enjoy a bountiful crop. I had so many pumpkins, they didn’t have time to ripen prior to our October frost. Nonetheless, I harvested them and gave them away to friends who wanted to use them for crafting.



It’s good to know that by trashing pumpkins it worsen an already bad problem. Decomposing organics make landfills the 3rd largest producers of methane in our country. If we all compost (in our gardens), eat or upcycle these orange orbs we and our environment will be better for it.


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