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The Flower Show

6 Ways to Upcycle Your Leftover Pumpkins

November 02, 2023

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This time of year brings to mind crimson leaves, hot apple cider, and pumpkins! In fact, pumpkins have been everywhere you look...and now they might be past their prime. What to do once your pumpkin's decoration-worthy days are done?  

At PHS, our first thoughts focus on creating healthy, livable environments, and providing access to fresh food for all. Pumpkins can do their part in helping us achieve these goals even after they have played their part in your holiday decorations. Consider these ecologically friendly options for your past-their-prime pumpkins. 

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Pumpkins are a great addition to any compost bin.

1. Compost

Pumpkins are a great source of nitrogen for compost bins! If you do not keep a compost pile, bury the pumpkin in your yard. As it decays, nutrients and vitamins will enrich your soil, including vitamins A, C, and potassium. 

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Leaving pumpkins in your yard can benefit local wildlife.

2. Leave Them in Your Yard

Pumpkins make a great snack for native wildlife. “I throw mine into an out-of-the-way place and let the squirrels have at it,” says Sally McCabe, PHS Associate Director of Education. Groundhogs, squirrels, birds, and deer can snack on your leftover pumpkins. 

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Saving pumpkin seeds can ensure that you have pumpkin seeds for the following year.

3. Save the Seeds 

Seed saving is a simple way to guarantee you will have pumpkins for next fall. Place the dry seeds in a sealed envelope and keep them in a cool and dry place where they can stay undisturbed for a long period of time (your refrigerator is perfect for this). Next spring, you can plant the seeds in your garden for fresh orange pumpkins by fall. Or make pumpkin seed bombs with them.

A seed bomb is a little ball made up of a combination of compost, clay, and seeds. The compost and clay act as a carrier for the seeds so they can be easily planted. Interestingly enough, the seeds you save may not be the same type of pumpkin that will eventually grow, due to the fact that pumpkins hybridize themselves while growing near other varieties. “It’s an adventure because you don’t know what you’re going to get, and that’s the fun of it. There are more than 45 different varieties of pumpkins, all in different sizes, shapes, and colors," says McCabe. 

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Donating your pumpkins can help your community.

4. Donate 

Organizations like Pumpkins for the People, Pumpkins for Pigs, and Highlands Orchards encourage people to donate pumpkins that can be used for food, animal feed, and compost. Donating your pumpkins can help your community, feed the local farm animals that live near you, and keep landfills free from unnecessary food waste through compost.  

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Pumpkins can act as great containers for fall blooming flowers.

5. Create a Real Pumpkin Planter 

If you’re running low on seasonal containers for your fall plants then consider creating one yourself using fall’s most famous fruit -- the pumpkin! You can use any sized pumpkin as a pot and style it as outdoor decor or as a table centerpiece! These pots are perfect for adding a little bit of autumn style to any home.  

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Pumpkins act as a food source for local wildlife.

6. Snack-O-Lantern 

Leftover pumpkins can make effective feeding stations for local birds in your area. Carve out a leftover pumpkin you have and place it somewhere easily accessible for birds to stop by and snack on! 

Before you throw your pumpkin out in the trash, take a moment to consider what you can do to help Mother Earth. Recycling or upcycling your pumpkin into its next life is the right -- and sustainable -- thing to do! 

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