The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

November 1, 2013

Turn 'ghoulish gourds' into prime compost

By Budd McLaughlin

— Halloween is over and it’s time to put the decorations back in the attic or the garage for another year. The lights, the inflatable Frankenstein; the witch in the tree and the floating ghosts all go into hibernation.

Back inside, you longingly stare at the leftover candy in the bowl near the door.

“Should I or shouldn’t I?” Sure. Go ahead and indulge … wisely.

Meanwhile, out on the front stoop is the lonely jack o’ lantern. For the past few nights, it’s been a beacon, sharing the spotlight with the front yard display.

Now, it just sits there rotting away; its teeth curling in and the candle inside melted into a glob of wax.

So. What do you do with that once-great pumpkin?

Here’s the answer: Don’t toss it in the garbage can or the landfill. Compost it.

"Food waste deposited in landfills, including discarded Halloween pumpkins, produces methane which, if not managed properly, can contribute to greenhouse gases," said Anne Germain, director of waste and recycling technology for the Environmental Industry Associations.

"Composting a pumpkin using a few simple tricks can help produce treats for the environment."

In a news release, Germain offered these tips to composting the “ghoulish gourds.”

• Remove items that cannot compost, such as candles or foil, and the seeds, which may grow into unwanted new pumpkins.

• If you don't have a compost pile, find a shady spot in the garden for hollowed-out pumpkins.

• Smash pumpkins into smaller pieces. This increases their surface area and helps them turn to compost faster.

• Loosely cover the pumpkins with compostable materials such as leaves or wood chips. This helps break down the pumpkins into compost and protects them from garden pests.

In just a few weeks, the pumpkins will transform into nutrient-rich compost.