Oh my gourd! How to compost your pumpkins

We hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween! Those big, orange pumpkins found at farms, grocery stores, and along stretches of road are really fun to carve and light this time of year. Maybe you also roasted the pumpkin seeds or made a puree from the pulp.

Whatever tasty and fun creations you made from your pumpkin, it will soon be time to retire it but please don’t send it to the landfill. When food scraps end up in a landfill, they decompose without oxygen and produce methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Every year millions of pounds of pumpkins end up in landfills after Halloween. Here are some easy ways to give this Halloween horror story a happy ending.

Add your pumpkin to a compost pile or pumpkin drop off site

Many community gardens accept food scraps to add to their existing compost piles. This is a great excuse to visit your local community garden too. There are usually well-marked compost piles in the garden inviting people to “Add Greens Here”. You can find a list of gardens here: http://compostcoalition.com/map-drop-locations/

Create your own backyard compost pile

If you have been thinking about starting a compost system in your backyard, now is a great time. In addition to limiting fruit and vegetable scraps entering a landfill, composting creates a nutrient rich supplement to add to your garden. Compost piles require 4 components: carbon, nitrogen, water, and oxygen. What we consider to be carbon, we also call browns. Browns include woody plant parts, dry leaves, stalks, or even cardboard. Materials that are high in nitrogen are called greens. These include your fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, and coffee grounds. Water is important to keep the pile moist. Oxygen is needed for the microorganisms in the compost pile to respire and to turn all of the browns and greens into compost.

To learn more about home composting including free classes and a rebate program from the City of Austin Resource Recovery, visit: http://www.austintexas.gov/composting

Have your home food waste picked up

If you live in select neighborhoods, the City of Austin may be offering their new curbside composting pick-up service that began this month. You can find out more here: https://austintexas.gov/austincomposts

Compost Pedallers is a local business that will pick up your food scraps and deliver them (by electric bicycle!) to local drop off sites around the city that will then be turned into compost.

We hope one of these solutions for retiring your pumpkin this year will work for you. They definitely work for our food system, planet, and growing gardens!