After Halloween, don’t trash your pumpkins

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) – For a lot of people, by the time Halloween gets here, the Jack-o’-lantern on the porch may be looking a little droopy.

Soon, it will be time to get rid of them, but putting them in the trash is not the best option.

“It’s our choice to throw it in the trash can, or it’s our choice to throw it into compost or in the dirt or something like that,” said Kathy Yoder with Vine and Fig.

Yoder said you should make the most of your pumpkins while you can. With just butter and some seasoning, the seeds are a great snack, and they’re good for you. The seeds can also be saved for gardening when the time is right.

The pulp inside a pumpkin can be roasted or it can be used in dessert recipes if the fruit is in good condition. Once you’ve used everything inside the pumpkin, it is time to dispose of it.

If you put your pumpkin in the trash, it ends up in the landfill, where it will release methane gas, which is bad for the environment. However, when the pumpkin is composted, it becomes new nutrients for a garden or for soil.

“It’s really scary to think about the landfill and how full it’s going to become of pumpkins. Two billion pounds of pumpkins go in after Halloween. It’s crazy to think about all that food waste going into the landfill,” said Yoder.

If you have a backyard composting set up already, the pumpkin can go in that. A backyard composting system is often one bin, which can be purchased at a big box store like Lowes, but they can also often be found at locally owned gardening centers. If you have a bin like that, a chopped pumpkin can be placed in it along with shredded leaves and other scraps.

If you don’t have a backyard bin, composting your pumpkin is not complicated.

Yoder said just dig a hole and either smash the pumpkin or chop it up. Burying the pumpkin allows the nutrients to go back into the soil. Smashing or chopping the pumpkin helps microorganisms break it down more easily.

Many Valley farmers say pumpkins are very useful for them, too. For a list of farmers who say they could use pumpkins, click here.

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