You’ll probably find yourself wondering how to compost a pumpkin when one of two things occur: Either the pumpkin is falling apart from being exposed to the elements, or holly and mistletoe are now a part of your decorating scheme.
Pumpkins are a great addition to a compost pile. Even if you don’t have your own compost pile or curbside compost collection, many communities create drop off sites for pumpkin disposal immediately after Halloween. Whichever way you choose to compost your leftover Halloween pumpkins, they’ll be a welcome addition to create natural fertilizer for next year’s garden.
To compost pumpkins, just two steps are necessary.
- First, remove candles, artificial lighting, or any other decorations that are in or attached to the pumpkin. This includes stickers, ribbons, and remnants of candle wax inside. Pumpkins that have been painted or coated with a preserving sealant should not be added to a compost pile. Pumpkins coated with glitter should not be composted, either. If only a portion of the pumpkin is coated with paint or glitter, it is okay to cut off that portion and dispose of it, while adding the remainder of the pumpkin to the compost pile.
- Second, remove the seeds from the inside of the pumpkin. While they are natural, the seeds can germinate and start growing new pumpkin plants in a compost pile.
Now, the pumpkins are ready to be composted. While not necessary, it is advisable to cut up or smash a pumpkin into smaller pieces to accelerate the rate of composting. Smashing a pumpkin can be part of the fun, whether by dropping from a high point such as a balcony or smashing with a hammer on the ground. Kids can really get involved with this composting step.
The pumpkin can now be added to your existing compost pile and mixed in with other ingredients, or added to your compost collection bin.
Don’t have a compost bin? No problem. Dig a hole in a garden bed or in your yard and add the pumpkin. Replace soil over the hole and let the compost take place naturally through the winter. A pumpkin can also be placed in an unused part of the yard on top of the soil, and covered with leaves.
No garden or yard? No worries. Many cities set up community drop-off locations after Halloween.
- The city of Thunder Bay, California sets up Pumpkin Compost Bins on November 1 for a 10-day period. Since starting the program in 1995, the city has diverted more than 360 tons of pumpkins from the landfills.
- Wheaton, Illinois has begun a drive-thru pumpkin drop off for their residents.
- In Norwood, Massachusetts and Madison, Wisconsin, residents can add pumpkins to their leaf collection bags to be composted with yard waste.
Not all communities allow pumpkins to be collected along with yard waste. Contact your local recycling center to ask about how to dispose of pumpkins in your hometown.
Feature image courtesy of Wayne Marshall