Every year, more than a few people ask me what we do with all of the pumpkins and Jack-O-Lanterns after the Halloween display has been taken down. It used to be as simple as placing the discarded jack-o-lanterns at the curb. The village Dept of Transportation would come by several times throughout the fall vacuuming the leaves from the curb, and would gladly smash and suck up any jack carcasses they might come upon. Fifty one pumpkins, that’s a lot to waste. We have since changed our thinking and now we try to use as much of the pumpkin as possible.
When cleaning out the pumpkins for carving, we keep many of the seeds for eating. After being removed, the fiberous strands, or “brains” as they are often referred to, and seeds are handed over to my wife for separation and preparation. She prepares a few different flavors, which are then served at our Halloween Party
Since we grow our own, I pick out the two best looking pumpkins, and the seeds from those are cleaned, dried, and saved for next year’s planting. The fiberous strands, or “brains” as they are often referred to, and any remaining seeds are then spread out in the, now empty, garden. The seeds provide food for the local wildlife (squirrels and birds) while the rest of the waste provides nutrients to the soil.
As I mentioned, we grow our own pumpkins. About 1/3 of our nearly 550 sq foot garden is reserved for the pumpkins. We, as a suppliment to our gardening, also compost our organic wastes. The straw, corn stalks, and yes, all of the Jacks will eventually make their way into the compost bin. A fitting end, as they will help provide the nutrients to feed next years crop.
While they will all make the journey eventually, not all of the Jacks will go right into the compost bin. Only half of them have made it there thus far. The remaining stand poised atop the last of the straw bales, awaiting the opportunity to be photographed at the peak of their collapse. Last year I came upon another site that shared photos of their decomposing jack-o-lanterns. It was a great concept, and I plan to try my hand at it as well. Stay tuned for the “Rotting Jacks”