• What to do with your Halloween pumpkin,.. after

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    So, your porch is overrun with pumpkins and Halloween is now past.  What does a Flea Market Gardener do?  We normally like to reuse everything so maybe one of these ideas, from the from practical to the yummy, will appeal to you.

    ‘Plant’ it in the garden

    Easiest! Watch as Mother Nature does what comes naturally.  I sometimes just chuck it off the patio, down the slope until it comes to rest where it wants to.  Last year the pumpkin seeds sprouted and grew into a lovely, healthy plant covered in long pale peachy-orange blossoms.  …Until a deer came by to enjoy it.  Must have been its lucky day!

    Beautiful, healthy pumpkin plant, ready to eat.

    Beautiful, healthy pumpkin plant, ready to eat.

    Feed them to the chickens

    Most fowl love squash of any kind and raw seeds and pumpkins are very healthy for them. Sounds like a chicken party to me!

    JJ is wary of the pumpkin but will enjoy it soon! Photo by Curbstone Valley Farm

    J J, the turkey, is wary of the pumpkin but will enjoy it soon! Photo by Curbstone Valley Farm



    Plant an arrangement

    Pack the carved area of your pumpkin with soil or moss and plant with mums, grasses, even transplant drying annuals from your patio pots! It will be a festive decoration for a few days, and then you can plant the whole thing right in the garden. The pumpkin will naturally compost and provide fertilizer for your plant.  It may be a little chilly for planting. But if you haven’t had your first frost, give this one a try! This arrangement won’t last too long, then you can…

    Container created by Garden Whimsies by Mary

    Container created by Garden Whimsies by Mary

    Although this can also be done with a fresh pumpkin, Mary Mirabel, of Garden Whimsies by Mary, took a class on how to make a craft pumpkin planter. She said, “One of my favorite garden shops had a class this weekend on planting pumpkins. I had fun and got to create this pumpkin planter. This will be an annual addition to my fall decorations for sure.

    Craft pumpkins are the ones you find at crafts stores like Michael’s or Joanne’s Crafts. They are hollow so all you have to do is cut off the top and make a couple drainage holes in the bottom for planting.”


    Put it in the compost heap

    …It will make good fertilizer and don’t be surprised if a plant grows there, too.

    Composted Pupmkin. Awwww! Photo by Drew Beal

    Composted Pumpkin. Awwww! Photo by Drew Beal

    Display as long as possible

    …Where you can see it from inside.  I put mine by the bird feeder to show off the brilliant blue of the Jays. If you’re lucky you’ll get ‘frost on the pumpkin.’

    These pumpkins lasted several months adding color to the winter patio.

    These pumpkins lasted several months adding color to the winter patio.

    Eat the seeds!

    Place them in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet. Stir them around to coat them with oil. From here, you can go almost anywhere with your pumpkin seeds. Add a little salt for classic roasted pumpkin seeds, or add a tablespoon or two of oil and brown sugar and a sprinkling of cinnamon or chili powder for a spicy or sweet treat.

    Spicy or sweet roasted seeds

    Spicy or sweet roasted seeds


    Just bury it in the garden

    It will decay quickly and enrich the soil…you can also bury the whole ‘container’, like Mary’s above, in the ground and the pumpkin will act as fertilizer!

    Wash, dry and save the seeds to plant next year

    …They will grow! Once they dry (I use an open cardboard box that absorbs moisture), place them folded in a paper towel and set inside a sandwich bag, left open. I store all my labeled ‘seed bags’ in a folded down paper grocery bag like a small file.

    My seed file

    My seed file

    Make a pie or pumpkin bars

    If you haven’t carved your pumpkin or if it hasn’t been cut and left outside for more than 24 hours, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, cut each half once more and place your pumpkin cut-side down in a baking dish with about a cup of water, and bake for about 90 minutes or until the flesh is tender. Scoop out the flesh and puree in a food processor. Once you’ve made your pumpkin purée, it’s ready for use in all your favorite pumpkin recipes and can be frozen as well.

    Pumpkin bars have become a family favorite

    Pumpkin bars have become a family favorite

    Pumpkin bars are more like cake with cream cheese frosting.  These are becoming our traditional Thanksgiving ‘pie’


    Your say:

    Bein’ crafty

    Bonnie Trill says, “I think I will spray paint white and make a snow man,”  Kimberly Buehrer turns her pumpkins around and on the opposite side of the Halloween face she uses black magic marker to write “Be Thankful.” She says, “The pumpkin becomes a Thanksgiving decoration.”

    Garden or goats

    Stephanie Williams says, “ I threw my kids’ pumpkins in my compost pile. All the veggie scraps go in it, so I can nourish my garden next growing season.”

    Melissa Lee Lynn Give it to the chickens. Pumpkin seeds have a natural dewormer.   Ruth Witte “Give farmer for their pigs”    Ruth E. Brown “I feed it to my dairy goats.”

    People food!

    Sue Sullivan says, “I buy sugar pumpkins and don’t carve jack o lanterns. I cook them up, roast the seeds and eat them. Stem, peel & guts go in the compost.    Robyn McClellan bakes the seeds       Julie Greer makes pies.  Leslie Siedsma says, “I microwave it and make my pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.”    Susan Thompson: Made side dish, muffins and the rest will go to soup today.

    Food for wildlife

    Cecilia Ayers: Cut open to make natural bird feeder   Patty Keeling Bender: Let the squirrels have them, or wildlife that may like them!  Jeaneane Fortune says, “ We put it out in the country. We have been told that deer like to eat the seeds and meat and it is a natural dewormer.”

    Kids’ fun!

    Catherine Hinkle:  Kids using it for target practice   Wende Allen: My son uses it for a target. He shoots it up

    Pumpkin Bowling!

    Kelli Biesbrock says, “We do pumpkin bowl! We live in the woods, on a bit of a hill, attached is a trail of sorts an area where the deer frequent, any how, we just dispose of them by bowling them from the top of the hill, and try to get them to the spot where the deer like to graze. Weird, I know, but fun. Our adult kids are coming out to enjoy the festivities, making a day of it, pumpkin bowl, food and football.”

    May Yal says, “We toss ‘em into our wild meadow for the deer and with luck, some seed and make pumpkins in the spring to run among the wild flowers.”

    Paige Harvey does this too. She says, “ I just tossed mine off the front porch when it started to rot.  Some little creature must have picked up the seeds and buried them in a big empty flower pot.  Later in the year, I had a pumpkin plant growing, flowers & all. Pretty cool!”

    Whatever you do, have fun! Next holiday,…Thanksgiving!  ~~ Sue


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    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.


    1. Jeanne Sammons says:

      Can’t be Fall without ‘pumpkins!’ Good ideas here … & next time I plant a Mum in one I will try ‘planting’ the whole thing when the pumpkin starts to rot! I usually ‘compost’ but I’ve never seen one of mine look back up at me like Drew Beal’s pic above! LOL! Fun post, Sue Langley!