How to give pumpkins a second life

squirrel eating pumpkin

By Brianna Roe

The month of October usually brings with it pumpkins: pumpkins for carving and pumpkins for decorations. But what can be done with the pumpkins after they’re no longer being used? Most of the time, they’re left on porches until they begin to rot, or they’re pushed aside for Christmas decor. 

With a little bit of effort, your pumpkins can be given a second life that benefits many. Below are just a few of the many ways to reuse pumpkins. 


If your pumpkins are still in good shape and haven’t begun to rot, you can harvest the seeds and roast them for a tasty treat or scoop out the flesh to make soup or pie. Once you’ve used the inside or guts of the pumpkin to feed you family, the rind can be used to make pumpkin chips. 


Wildlife — just like us — cannot get enough of that yummy pumpkin flavor. You can simply slice the pumpkins into chunks and place them in an area of your yard you wouldn’t mind having wildlife visit for a snack. You can either leave the seeds in the pumpkin or remove them. 

If you remove the seeds, they can be used to feed the birds. Simply allow the seeds to dry and mix the dried seeds in with bird seed and place into a bird feeder. Just ensure the feeder is big enough to allow the pumpkin seeds to flow out. Don’t use pumpkins that have been painted on, as the paint can be toxic to wildlife. 


Pumpkins make a great addition to your compost pile, or you can use them to start a compost pile. If you do not want to risk pumpkins growing in your compost pile, harvest the seeds first. The seeds can simply be used for one of the uses listed above. If your pumpkins have begun to rot or have spots of mold on them, composting is the best use. 

Soil fertility

If you do not have a compost pile don’t want to start one, pumpkins can also be used directly in your garden or yard. Simply break them into pieces and allow them to rot in your garden, or bury them in an area of your yard where nutrients may be lacking. Just be sure to remove the seeds if you don’t want to risk growing pumpkins in those areas next year. 

Feed the pollinators

The blooms that produce pumpkins are also a great food source for pollinators. Simply harvest the seeds and keep them in a dry place and plant the following year to feed the pollinators and grow pumpkins to be used next fall. 

These are just a few of the many ways pumpkins can be reused this fall. 

(Brianna Roe is the agricultural technician for the Guernsey Soil and Water Conservation District.)

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