Don’t bin your Halloween pumpkin, compost it

The jack o' lantern can start to get pretty droopy after Halloween has passed. Instead of sending it to the landfill, consider composting your pumpkin.

Credit: Vancouver Compost Demonstration Garden

When your jack o’ lantern’s snear fades, consider composting.

Quarantine your pumpkin when composting it after Halloween, lest you want a summer of weeding up baby jack-o’-lanterns next year

The jack o’ lantern can start to get pretty droopy after Halloween has passed. Instead of sending it to the landfill where it will take up valuable space, off-gas into the atmosphere and contribute to climate change (to say nothing of the fossil fuels used or the carbon dioxide burned when transporting to the landfill), consider composting your pumpkin.

Tips for Composting the Pumpkin after Halloween
1. If you don’t already have a composter or only have a balcony, you can use any old plastic container to house your humus until you starting planting next year’s garden.
2. Remove all the seeds before dumping your pumpkin into the compost heap! Pumpkins have a habit of spreading far and wide, and their seeds are hardy enough to live through the whole composting process. That means you may be in for a long summer of weeding if you’re not careful!
3. And, obviously, you’ll need to empty your pumpkin of any candle wax, foil or other detritus.
4. Gather fallen leaves and yard trimmings (minus the sticks and logs) to use as a “bed” for your pumpkin compost, and be sure to save some for laying over top.
5. As time goes on, add vegetable, fruit and grain waste to the mix, but leave out the animal waste, like meat, bones and fat.
6. If your plan is to use the spot where you’re composting the pumpkin to grow more pumpkin next year, special consideration should be taken when choosing leaf debris: certain species contain a growth inhibitor that will actually reduce your pumpkin’s growth, while others may have the wrong pH, which affects how long it will take for the matter to break down. Oak Leaves, for example, are very acidic and take a very long time to break down. Maple leaves are a good choice.
7. Covering your compost with a black plastic bag will accelerate decomposition.
8. To make your composter rodent-resistant, be sure it has a secure top and bottom, no holes bigger than half an inch and is made of a durable material.
9. Worm composting is another option.
10. Learn more about composting by contacting Vancouver Compost Demonstration Garden, which operates composting hotline to answer composting questions (604-736-2250) and a compost garden (2150 Maple Street, open April to November, Wednesday to Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and December to March, Friday and Saturday, 9:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m. Visit Vancouver Compost Demonstration Garden online. To watch a year in the life of this community garden, click here.