Decorate, of course! We’ll use them to scare trick-or-treaters on Halloween, add a burst of color to our porches through the fall and, in their miniature form, decorate our Thanksgiving table. Then most of them will collapse into a squishy lump before going in the garbage, never realizing their full potential.
And that’s a true shame, especially when you realize, in terms of its water footprint, it takes 93 gallons of water to grow a full-size pumpkin. But with a little creativity, you can squeeze out a few last drops before throwing the final remains on the family compost pile.
Feed the wildlife …
Mix some of the pumpkin seeds in with your bird feed, giving your feathered friends a special treat. (And don’t forget to set aside a few for yourself, to roast in the oven.) Then take the rest of the pumpkin and, cutting away any parts that have rotted or are painted, dice it into bite-size pieces for the deer and other furry critters. You’ll be their new BFF!
And feed the family, too!
Nothing beats a pumpkin pie made from scratch, right down to the pumpkin pulp. (According to the USDA, even the canned variety that promises 100 percent pumpkin can legally include squash, which loosely falls in the pumpkin family.) Click here for a Food Network take on the holiday treat. And remember, the puree is good for a number of other options, including a savory pumpkin soup.
But whatever you do, don’t …
Don’t try to put your pumpkin or even the slimy stuff you pull out while carving your jack-o-lantern down the sink drain or garbage disposal. The blockage that forms when it dried into a hard crust is notorious for resisting plungers and chemical drain openers. Those in the know say you shouldn’t even rinse it off your hands at the sink. Go outdoors and wash them at the outside faucet instead.
You can, however, do this.
Place discarded gourds in the compost heap. It’s a good place to end, and a great place to begin next spring. Not only will the pumpkins and other organic waste come together in an environment-friendly fertilizer, but if you set aside some seeds, it can give you a head start on next year’s pumpkin patch.