It’s fun while it lasts, but the job of protecting our homes against vampires and chasing off evil spirits is done after Halloween night…..What to do with all those jack-o’-lanterns?  Rather than throwing an unwanted pumpkin in the trash, here are some tricks* that make good use of it and keep the treats coming a little while longer.

*Editor’s Note: Toxins in paint can be harmful to people and wildlife;  therefore, these pumpkin recycling suggestions apply to jack-o’-lanterns and other pumpkins used for holiday decoration that have not been painted. 


A fundamental of organic farming is a nutrient-rich compost that’s made of recycled and decomposed “green” waste materials, such as leaves, grass clippings, vegetable trimmings, and food waste.

Pumpkins breakdown and decompose quickly because they are 90% water.  To avoid sprouting pumpkin plants in your compost pile, make sure all seeds have been removed from your jack-o’-lantern before throwing it in your compost bin.  If you don’t compost, check with gardening friends and neighbors, community gardens and farms about donating pumpkins.

Starting a compost project at home, indoors or outside, is easy, good for your garden soil and the environment.  For the best results, first read up on the basics [EPA website: “Composting at Home Basics “, and for more composting info & gardening tips, check out this ⇒ Book Selection ], and get the right equipment [Click here to see selection of handy kitchen food scrap bins and a variety of garden composters ⇒  SHOP ].



You’ve got to pull away the seeds from the stringy, slimy pumpkin flesh, rinse them off in a colander, then let dry a bit (not on paper or cloth because they’ll stick).  You can, of course, roast the seeds for a crunchy snack as it’s easy enough to spread them on a baking sheet, coat with oil, sprinkle with seasonings, and bake in 350F/180C preheated oven for 10 minutes.  However, there are probably some hungry birds outside.  Why not give them a treat?

For the BIRDS:  Take the clean, dry pumpkin seeds, don’t add a thing—no salt, oil, or seasoning, and no roasting, and simply place them outdoors on a flat surface, tray, or shallow bowl, or mix with commercial bird seed.  Watch happy birds chow down.

For PLANTING:  You can also save some of the pumpkin seeds for planting next spring.  If your gardening space is limited or nonexistent, try growing pumpkin plants in 5-10 gallon buckets.  Learn more about planting, growing and harvesting pumpkins from the Farmer’s Almanac.



Animals (deer, rabbits, squirrels) enjoy eating pumpkin as much as we do.  Just cut the pumpkin into pieces and leave outside (away from the house & best near trees) for your neighborhood wildlife.  Easy!


Give the wildlife in your backyard a cozy winter homeGive the wild things in your backyard a cozy winter home
 Ideas for creating wildlife homes




It's easy and fun to join On2In2 social networkWe’d love to hear from you! If you’d like to comment on this article, join the conversation, or share your inspiration, and you have not yet registered as an On2In2™ playmaker, please sign up via the ‘Engage page’.  Don’t worry, it’s pretty quick and easy (unless you’re a robot).



Get more fun delivered straight to your inbox. It's easy to sign up for the On2In2™ newsletter.


This page includes links to a shop website. If you purchase a product or service directly through a link, Zeester Media LLC may earn a small commission. This in no way affects the price you pay for the purchase.

Sad old jack-o’-lantern photo by Flickr user, Seth Halstead, CC BY-NC 2.0 

Share by Email

Posted by Zola Zeester

Zola is a vagabond playmaker, the On2In2™ recreation guru and primary source of inspiration for this article. Currently resides at Zeester Media HQ.