As thoughts of Christmas holidays begin to abound, changing out our fall decoration begins. This year instead of throwing away your porch pumpkins, I want you to remember that pumpkins are food so let's rethink how to use them after they have been used for decorations. It is estimated that over 1 billion pumpkins end up in the landfill every year in the USA alone.
Cook with Pumpkins - This is the most obvious options of what to do with your porch pumpkins. Although they may be hard to cut at times, you can eat not only the pulp of the pumpkins but also enjoy the seeds. A multitude of recipes are out there on cooking with pumpkins. From soups to pies to casseroles to breads, there will be a recipe out there that fits your palate. Check out allrecipes.com for some pumpkin recipe inspiration.
Donate to Farms/Zoo - Animals love pumpkins too. Pumpkins are a nutritious snack for many animals at zoos, on farms or at animal rescue centers. Consider donating your old pumpkins to these organizations.
Feed the Wildlife in Your Backyard - Alternatively you can cut up your pumpkins (removing the seeds) and feed them to the wildlife in your own backyard (birds and squirrels). With the removed pumpkin seeds, place plain, cleaned seeds in a bird feeder or small bowl in your backyard and watch birds get excited by the exciting new treat. (Removing the seeds and placing them out separately will help limit the growth of pumpkins all over your yard).
Decompose them in Your Garden - I personally like to watch my old pumpkins decompose in our garden beds. We have done this for last several years and we enjoy seeing which pumpkins will show up each year. Then the ones that grow, we use to decorate with/cook with the following year.
Compost Them - If you are already composting, then pumpkins are easy to add. Even if you are not composting yet, pumpkins are a great place to start since they are pretty easy. It is best if you cut up the pumpkin before placing them in your compost bin so that they will compost faster. Once the pumpkin fully decomposes, the pumpkin will add valuable fertilizer to enrich your soil or plants in your garden.
Dispose of them in the Food Waste - Did you know that places like EBMUD (East Bay Municipal Utility District) turn old pumpkins (food scraps) into renewable electricity. EBMUD places food scraps such as pumpkins in anaerobic digesters where the food scraps are broken down by bacteria which in turn releases methane. The methane is then used by EBMUD to power their onsite generators. Digesting 100 tons of food waste can produce enough electricity to power a thousand homes.
So this year instead of throwing pumpkins away in the garbage, think of all the other uses for these wonderful fruits (yes pumpkins are fruit).