It’s pumpkin season everywhere. Folks carve them, arrange them, paint them, use them in fall decorations, turn them into pies or roast seeds for snacks.
From October through November the colorful orange squash plants are a welcome sight, but weeks later, the question is how to dispose of your pumpkin collection.
If the neighbor squirrel family hasn’t discovered your carved pumpkins and started snacking, consider saving unpainted, carved pumpkins for wildlife.
Whether you like to carve your pumpkins or leave them whole, when the season ends, there’s an easy answer on how to dispose of them. Of course, you can throw them away or add them to the compost pile. But, this year, instead of tossing them in the trash or letting them rot, consider using them to spruce up your garden as a seasonal treat for backyard wildlife.
As you clean your pumpkin and prepare to carve it, if you don’t roast seeds for yourself, consider roasting them for wildlife. (Psst, don’t use salt or seasonings.)
Numerous wildlife will eat pumpkin seeds, too! The seeds should be dried, either naturally or in the oven, to make it easier for birds to break into them.
Carved pumpkins tend to decompose much faster than whole pumpkins, which is great news for the macroinvertebrates—small organisms without backbones—in your garden! Pumpkins breakdown quickly in the soil since they are 90% water, which makes them a great addition to a compost pile.
If you don’t have a compost pile, you could also chop the pumpkin into small pieces and bury them in the garden as fertilizer. Worms and other macroinvertebrates will love you for it, and the soil will be more fertile for growing native plants next year.
Pumpkin flesh can be used as a nutritious backyard snack for many wildlife species. You can leave the pumpkin whole, cut it into pieces, or cut out access holes to allow wildlife to reach inside the pumpkin and scoop out the flesh.
Some folks make snack-o’-lanterns and fill carved pumpkins with birdseed. But, if the snack-o’-lantern begins to mold, dispose of it in the trash or compost bin.
However you choose to serve your pumpkin snack to local wildlife, place it away from the house, near trees and other cover and enjoy viewing your wildlife.
–Resources: Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, National Wildlife Federation.