How to recycle your decorative pumpkins

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squirrel eating pumpkin

I feel like we’re somewhere in between time to take down the Halloween decorations and way, WAY too early to put up the Christmas decorations. Although the friends sharing pictures of their Christmas trees on Facebook last week would probably disagree. Either way, a lot of pumpkins are going to be tossed out over the next couple of weeks.

So what can we do to make sure they don’t go to waste?

Well, that all depends on how much your pumpkins have decomposed already.

Moldy Jack-o-lanterns and pumpkins

These are the pumpkins you’ve been enjoying for a few weeks that have visible signs of mold and rot on them. The best thing you can do is compost moldy jack-o-lanterns and pumpkins. They’re already past their prime for any other use.

How to compost your pumpkin

  1. Remove candles and any other decorations from your pumpkin.
  2. Remove any remaining seeds to prevent growing volunteer pumpkin plants next year. You can save these seeds to feed wildlife or grow a pumpkin patch next year.
  3. Slice your pumpkin into pieces to accelerate decomposition. You can skip this step if your pumpkin is already pretty rotted.
  4. Dig a hole in the middle of your compost pile, bury the pumpkin slices and cover with compost.
  5. If you don’t have your own compost bin, check with your local government, nearby farms, or community gardens to see if they collect old pumpkins.

Jack-o-lanterns without signs of mold

If you carved your pumpkin closer to Halloween, your jack-o-lantern may not be moldy or rotting just yet. The colder weather and rainy days have preserved jack-o-lanterns especially well this year.

If you’re ready to get rid of your jack-o-lantern and it doesn’t have viable signs of decomposition, you might consider turning it into a bird feeder.

How to make a pumpkin feeder

  1. Check for signs of mold and rot to ensure freshness.
  2. Fill with enough birdseed for wildlife to eat within a few days to prevent seed from molding.
  3. Set out in an area of your backyard regularly visited by wildlife, with good visibility from a back window.

Pumpkins without signs of mold

You may also have leftover pumpkins you didn’t carve. I usually leave mine sit in the garden for decoration until Thanksgiving, but not everyone has the same appreciation for fall decor. If you want to clear yours out sooner and they are still pretty fresh, you can use them to feed wildlife.

How to recycle pumpkins to feed wildlife

  1. Check for signs of mold and rot to ensure freshness.
  2. Cut into pieces.
  3. Leave out in an area of your backyard regularly visited by wildlife.

Leftover pumpkin seeds

After you’ve disposed of any unwanted pumpkins or jack-o-lanterns, you may have leftover pumpkin seeds. These seeds can be used to feed wildlife also or you can save them to grow your own pumpkin patch next year.

How to feed pumpkin seeds to wildlife

  1. Collect pumpkin seeds from pumpkins during carving, before composting or before slicing and feeding to wildlife.
  2. Dry seeds, but don’t add salt or seasoning.
  3. Set seeds out on a tray, plate or shallow bowl or mix in with existing birdseed.
  4. Place pumpkin seeds out in an area of your backyard regularly visited by wildlife, with good visibility from a back window.

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