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What to do with old pumpkins

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Pumpkins are a classic outdoor and indoor decor item for the fall. From carving and filling with light to using smaller pie pumpkins for centerpieces and mantel toppers, pumpkins are in abundance during the fall. So, what are you to do with pumpkins once their decorating purpose is done? Here are some creative and useful ways to get rid of pumpkins in the fall that keeps them out of landfills.

Fun ways to dispose of pumpkins

If you just need to get those carved pumpkins off of your porch, but you don’t want to contribute to the local landfill, then try these fun ways of “throwing out” an old Jack-O-Lantern.

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  • Feed the compost: Instead of tossing that pumpkin in the trashcan, consider adding your pumpkin shell to your own compost pile. No compost pile? No problem! Learn how to start composting here or even how to direct compost, no pile needed! Composting pumpkins helps put nutrients back into your soil and may even get you some pumpkin plants for next year! No desire to compost? Ask a neighbor who has a compost pile if you can contribute!
  • Feed the animals: Have pumpkins that aren’t rotting on the stoop? Consider feeding them to local goats or chickens. Many backyard “farm” animals would love a pumpkin treat. If you don’t have a backyard flock or animals, check with local friends who do. They may be happy to take your unused vegetables!
  • Toss it out: I’m not encouraging littering, per se, but if you have land or know of a patch of woods, then remove any candles, wax, and/or seeds from your pumpkins and toss the shells. The shell and flesh will break down, benefiting your land or that patch of woods you toss it in.
  • Pumpkin Smashing: I mention this because I have three kids, two of which are boys, so they love to smash just about anything. If you’re planning on kicking your pumpkins to the compost or the woods, why not scoop out the seeds (for roasting of course), then let the kiddos have fun with a pumpkin piñata. Hang it or leave it on the ground, they’ll just enjoy smashing it up, and it will actually break down better in the compost if it’s in pieces. Your kids will thank you for the chance to break something on purpose!
Direct Compost
Our direct compost below one of our raised beds

How to use old pumpkins

Not quite ready to toss out your old decorative or porch pumpkins yet? Here are some fun and creative ways to use those pumpkins to feed your family and to simply enjoy!

  • Homemade Pumpkin Puree: This easy Instant Pot Pumpkin Puree recipe only takes a few minutes and gives you fresh puree for all of those fall baked goods! (Don’t miss these Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins!) You can use any type of pumpkin, but the small sugar pumpkins do work best for flavor.
  • Easy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds: Before you make your pumpkin into puree, scoop out those seeds and roast them. This easy roasted pumpkin seed recipe just takes a few minutes of prep work, and then you’ll have a snack that’s healthy, delicious, and homemade!
  • Pumpkin planter: Want to ramp up your decor for Thanksgiving or the holidays? Repurpose your pumpkin into a fun planter! Stephanie over at Garden Therapy has a wonderful tutorial for creating a pumpkin planter and tips for how to make it last.
  • Seed Saving: If you liked the pumpkins you had for decor this year, then try saving some of the seeds to plant next year. Simply scoop out some of the seeds, then let them dry on a paper towel. Place dried seeds in a cool, dry place until ready to plant next spring or summer. If you decide to compost your pumpkin with the seeds inside, then chances are, your compost pile may spring up with a new plant on its own!

Fall Garden Helps

Get help planning, planting, and harvesting your fall vegetable garden! Use these fall gardening tips take your garden even further this year!