Pumpkin compost is a fantastic way to sustainability reduce waste this Halloween. Here’s exactly how to set one up!
Halloween isn’t the same without a pumpkin, but what do you do with it once the season ends? Pumpkin compost is one way you can dispose of your pumpkin sustainably and reduce waste.
What may seem like just another holiday decoration, pumpkins are the cherry on top of a problem we are yet to solve. Food waste is a major issue across the globe draining our resources and creating an imbalance in supply and demand.. According to We Forum, 10 million pumpkins are grown every year in the UK, and unfortunately, 95% used during the Halloween period are thrown away.
The holiday is responsible for 18,000 tonnes of pumpkin waste which could be easily resolved if we were more aware of our food waste problems. Luckily, there are many things you can do with a pumpkin after Halloween that reduce waste and help the planet. In this article, we’ll focus on how you can compost it.
Before we jump into how to compost a pumpkin, let’s discuss the benefits of creating a pumpkin compost. Pumpkins are a brilliant choice for your compost bin since they consist of water and fibre. This means composting a pumpkin will give your compost heap plenty of moisture and nitrogen.
As well as its outer shell, pumpkin seeds are also compostable and rich in vitamins, minerals, and proteins. While many may be under the impression you need to grind the seeds beforehand, it actually makes them harder to break down. Therefore, adding the seeds in whole is best.
However, do keep in mind this could result in tiny pumpkins growing if their ideal growing conditions are met… If you don’t fancy growing an unintentional pumpkin patch, leave the seeds out and let the birds feed on them instead. If you have painted your pumpkin, you may wonder if the paint will impact whether you can create pumpkin compost. The good news is if you have used biodegradable paints, your pumpkin can still be composted. So if you want to decorate your pumpkin with paints, try and use biodegradable options. If not, try to rinse the paint off your pumpkin before trying to compost it.
Every year, a vast quantity of pumpkins are discarded instead of being composted or eaten. Bloomberg reports that 1 billion pounds of pumpkin are left to rot in America’s landfills yearly. Pumpkins that are sent to landfills produce methane gas which is far more potent than carbon dioxide.
This is why composting your pumpkins is a great option. Not only that, but composted pumpkins can capture water and nutrients that can be placed directly into farms, parks, and gardens. Therefore, composting your pumpkin instead of throwing it away is much kinder to the planet and can make a big difference.
If you’re not already familiar with composting or how to compost pumpkins, below are some steps that will help you successfully compost your pumpkin this Halloween.
Before we get into what is arguably the most fun (the smashing stage), you’ll want to give your pumpkin a good clean. If you have candles in your pumpkin, remove them and any accompanying wax.
It’s also essential to wipe off any paint or stickers. Essentially, you will want to remove anything that is not natural. Once you have cleaned the outside and brought the pumpkin back to its original form, you’ll want to remove the seeds.
If you don’t, you may find yourself accidentally growing pumpkins! Chances are, if you want to compost your pumpkin, you probably do not want to harvest more. The choice is yours but if not, take out the seeds. After the first step, you should be left with a seedless, clean, and natural pumpkin.
If you are not already a compost connoisseur, no problem. Setting up a compost pile couldn’t be easier. You’ll want first to put aside a space in your garden. The space should have soil exposed. Then, build your base layer using twigs and straw from your garden.
You only need a few inches, and the reason for this is to ensure good drainage. The next step is to add in some different green and brown materials. From this point, many gardeners will add in a nitrogen source, such as nitrogen fertiliser. Be sure to moisten your materials, too, by adding lots of water.
After you have added your water, you just need to turn your compost every few weeks. If you already have a compost pile, you can, of course, skip these steps. Alternatively, some recycling centres, community gardens, and farms may also be on the lookout for pumpkins for their compost.
Smashing pumpkins is arguably the most enjoyable step in the pumpkin composting process for kids and adults alike. After all, the 1970s rock band didn’t get their name from nowhere…
Set the scene and start smashing your pumpkin into smaller pieces. You can pop some music on while you do this, listen to a podcast, or even finish your favourite Halloween film to mark the end of the season.
Breaking the pumpkin into smaller pieces will help speed up the composting process. The flesh of the pumpkin is generally quick to break down; however, other parts can take a bit longer, so breaking it into smaller pieces really helps. You can use whatever tools you want to smash it; generally, a hammer or rolling pin will do the job! Alternatively, you can cut it up if you feel confident.
Once you have smashed your pumpkin into tiny pieces, it’s time to place it in your compost heap. Once you put your pumpkin in, you will want to cover it with some loose leaves. This can be another fun activity: leave hunting in your garden!
But remember, to effectively compost, you will require a mix of green and brown leaves, so don’t be shy to grab some older ones and pop them in. Another thing to keep in mind is that compost needs adequate sunshine and air to work, so don’t add too many leaves on top of your pumpkin.
The final step is to leave your compost heap and let nature break down your Halloween pumpkin. Nature will do its thing here, and your pumpkin will break down. You may even notice when checking in on it that insects or worms are snacking on it. Don’t fret, though; this is all part of the composting process.
Halloween is one of the most enjoyable times of the Autumn season, but what do you do with your pumpkins once the festivities are over? It’s unlikely you will want to keep a rotten pumpkin on your doorstep forever.
This is where pumpkin compost comes in; composting your pumpkin is much kinder to the planet and a better way to dispose of your pumpkin. Moreover, composting your pumpkin couldn’t be easier, and it is a fun activity you can get the whole family involved in. For more tips and tricks on how to lead a more sustainable lifestyle check out the One Tribe blog.
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