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7 Frighteningly Clever Things To Do With Pumpkins After Halloween

Halloween has come and gone. All the ‘good’ candy is gone; it’s nothing but pink pieces of cement (also known as Hubba Bubba) and those weird peanut butter taffy things in the black and orange wax paper. The jack-o-lanterns were posted to Instagram, but now comes the question, “What do you do with pumpkins after Halloween?”

Whether you went all out and decorated with a dozen pastel-colored heirloom pumpkins or have a couple of sad-looking jack-o-lanterns sitting on your porch, deciding what to do with these perishable decorations can be a hassle.

A Halloween display next to the road with hay stacks, pumpkins, mums and two Halloween signs.

The first and most obvious choice always seems to be – pitch ‘em.

But that’s just silly. It creates extra waste, and there are much better options for laying your pumpkins to rest each fall.

1. Compost Them

A jack-o-lantern laying on top of a compost heap.
He looks happy to be there.

One of the easiest options for getting rid of Jack when he’s past his prime is tossing your pumpkin on the compost heap. Send it back where it came from, and it will turn into gardener’s black gold.

To help pumpkins decompose faster, chop them into smaller chunks first. If you don’t have a compost pile or bin, I’ll bet you have a friend who does. You can also see if there is a community composting site where you live.

2. Save the Seeds

Overhead view of a pumpkin cut in half.
Save those seeds!

Of course, if you didn’t carve your pumpkins, consider cutting a couple open to save the seeds. They make a marvelously crunchy fall snack. Or you can save the seeds and grow pumpkins next year.

3. Eat Your Decorations

Several jars of pumpkin butter arranged around a kitchen towel, a pumpkin and tiny velvet pumpkins.
Eat your decorations.

Make pie or soup, or pumpkin bread or pumpkin butter. Those beautiful gourds aren’t just for decorating. Many of the prettiest pumpkins are also tasty heirloom varieties. And because they are frost and cold hearty, you can still cook and eat them. It all starts with pumpkin puree, which is surprisingly easy to make. Learn how here.  

A jar of pumpkin puree in front of a pie pumpkin and blender jar with pumpkin puree.

4. Make a Donation

Two small pigs eating a piece of pumpkin.

Local zoos, large animal rescues and even farms are happy to take pumpkins off your hands to feed to the animals. You may be surprised how many places in your community would be happy to have your Halloween cast-offs. What better way to kick off the season of giving?

5. Bird Feeder

Half of a pumpkin filled with bird seed and hung with twine as a bird feeder.

This is such a cool idea, and you can do it with whole pumpkins or carved pumpkins.

For carved pumpkins, leave the top off and fill the inside with your favorite birdseed. Place Jack where your local songbirds hang out, and they will take care of the rest. Along with the seeds, wild birds will happily eat the pumpkin as well.

If you have a whole pumpkin, slice it in half horizontally, scoop out some of the inner flesh and fill both halves with seeds. You can use twine to hang these feeders from branches or place them on the ground.

6. Feed Your Flock

Three chickens eating a pumpkin cut in half.

If you have chickens (and you really should), then you’ve got the perfect pumpkin disposal mechanism in your run. Chickens love pumpkins. As long as the pumpkins are rotten, you can cut them in half and feed them to your girls. Your flock will happily take your Halloween discards and turn them into delicious eggs for you.

7. Use Your Decomposing Pumpkin to Winter Over Mums

A smiling jack-o-lantern next to a potted chrysanthemum.
When Jack starts to look as wilted as your mums, pair them up for the winter.

If you decorated with mums, then you’ve probably read our article on how to keep them blooming all fall and winter them over.

One of the ways is to bury the mums in the ground. Take it a step further, repot them in one of your pumpkins, and plant the whole thing in the ground. The pumpkin will decompose, adding nutrients back to the soil while protecting the roots of your Chrysanthemums from frost damage.

See? You have plenty of easy options for getting rid of your pumpkins once Halloween is over. And most of them involve making another creature happy, whether it’s you or the local wildlife.

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Tracey Besemer

Hey there, my name is Tracey. I’m the editor-in-chief here at Rural Sprout.

Many of our readers already know me from our popular Sunday newsletters. (You are signed up for our newsletters, right?) Each Sunday, I send a friendly missive from my neck of the woods in Pennsylvania. It’s a bit like sitting on the front porch with a friend, discussing our gardens over a cup of tea.

Originally from upstate NY, I’m now an honorary Pennsylvanian, having lived here for the past 18 years.

I grew up spending weekends on my dad’s off-the-grid homestead, where I spent much of my childhood roaming the woods and getting my hands dirty.

I learned how to do things most little kids haven’t done in over a century.

Whether it was pressing apples in the fall for homemade cider, trudging through the early spring snows of upstate NY to tap trees for maple syrup, or canning everything that grew in the garden in the summer - there were always new adventures with each season.

As an adult, I continue to draw on the skills I learned as a kid. I love my Wi-Fi and knowing pizza is only a phone call away. And I’m okay with never revisiting the adventure that is using an outhouse in the middle of January.

These days, I tend to be almost a homesteader.

I take an eclectic approach to homesteading, utilizing modern convenience where I want and choosing the rustic ways of my childhood as they suit me.

I’m a firm believer in self-sufficiency, no matter where you live, and the power and pride that comes from doing something for yourself.

I’ve always had a garden, even when the only space available was the roof of my apartment building. I’ve been knitting since age seven, and I spin and dye my own wool as well. If you can ferment it, it’s probably in my pantry or on my kitchen counter. And I can’t go more than a few days without a trip into the woods looking for mushrooms, edible plants, or the sound of the wind in the trees.

You can follow my personal (crazy) homesteading adventures on Almost a Homesteader and Instagram as @aahomesteader.

Peace, love, and dirt under your nails,