Full Circle’s Guide to Composting Pumpkins

Eerie music. Scary costumes on kids and pets. Strangers handing you candy. There’s a lot of ways to get your creep on each Halloween. But what better way to celebrate ghouls and ghosts and macabre dead stuff than with your very own organic graveyard–your compost heap!

Yes sir, if you plan on carving or displaying a pumpkin this week, plan on disposing of it in an a sustainable plant-loving manner next week. (Or by Thanksgiving week. OK, come on, at least by some time before Xmas … don’t be those neighbors.)

Whenever you do it, read on for some fun tricks to treat yourself and your garden with your jack-o-lantern leftovers.

Don’t Trash ‘Em

Save the room in your garbage can for stale candy corn and unopened bags of Smarties. Every November, millions of discarded pumpkins wind up taking up space in landfills, rotting and belching up ghastly amounts of methane gas. Not helpful. Instead, turn those things into tasty future food for your spring plants! (In fact, better wolf down those Smarties, too. We feel guilty now.)

Eat Some Flesh

Mmm. Sweet, sweet pumpkin flesh! But “flesh” is actually the correct word for the innards we turn into pie, bread, soup, cookies, supposedly spiced lattes … even burgers. (This is America, after all.) So excavate that stuff, click around your favorite culinary website and have fun discovering your inner pumpkin. (NOTE: You can compost it, too, but that’s a far less tasty choice.)

Heed Those Seeds!

DON’T compost pumpkin seeds. Unless you’re looking to start your very own pumpkin patch in a random corner of your garden, in which case those resilient pre-pumpkin pods will be happy to wake up and “volunteer” for you some time next fall.

Instead, scoop those suckers out, separate them from the pulpy guts (which you can compost), and turn ‘em into snacks! Roast them with some oil and tasty seasoning with your favorite one of the approximately 4,000+ recipes out there.

Alternatively, let them air-dry and then add them to your bird feeder. (Just be warned that some civic-minded birds may assist in those pumpkins’ volunteer efforts, too! You do the math.)

Handle Those Candles, Too

If you decorated your jack-o-lantern with candles, lights, stickers, or other festive bric-a-brac, remember to remove it before you either accidentally destroy them (with the next step) or bury them in your otherwise organic material-based compost.

Smashing Pumpkins

Ready for the fun part? Really, the point here is to cut your pumpkins down into smaller bits to accelerate the composting / breaking down process. But why waste an opportunity for messy fun? Sic the kiddos on ‘em so they can burn off their sugar high. Launch jack from a huge cannon (seriously). Grab a 9-iron, pretend that gummy gourd is your boss, treat him to a few “holes-in-one!” Whatever. Get creative. Have some fun. And if you take pictures, send them to us!

Happy Halloween from your favorite fans of decomposing stuff, the Full Circle Soils & Compost Team.