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How to Compost a Whole Pumpkin

Wondering if you can toss a pumpkin in the compost pile? This guide to composting pumpkins tells you when it's okay to compost pumpkins (and when it's not!) and how to compost them.
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Equipment

  • Large knife
  • Ice scream scoop, or large spoon
  • Compost bin

Instructions 

  • Remove any decorations from the pumpkin. This applies if you used the pumpkin as a Jack-O-Lantern or other means of decoration. Any candle wax should be scraped off with a metal spoon. Parts of the pumpkin that contain paint, glitter, or preserving sealant should be left out of compost, unless you know these items are biodegradable.
  • Clean out the seeds. Although seeds are natural, they're not appropriate for composting because they can take root and sprout. Instead of adding seeds to compost, set them aside and save for roasting!
  • Remove the insides. If the pumpkin hasn't started to rot, you can remove its flesh for cooking. Simply add to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • Cut the pumpkin into small pieces. Use a knife to cut the pumpkin into chunks that are about the size of your hand. The smaller the pieces, the faster the pumpkin will rot in the compost pile.
  • Mix the pumpkin pieces with the rest of the pile. To maintain a balance of nutrients in your compost, make sure to combine the pumpkin with the rest of the ingredients rather than leaving it in one spot. You will also want to include plenty of brown material in your compost, like dead leaves, to keep the carbon to nitrogen ratio healthy.

Notes

  • How to tell when a pumpkin is ready to be composted: You can tell if a pumpkin is starting to decompose by the way it looks. If it has lost its bright orange color or starts to take on a dark brown color, that means the rotting process has started. When pumpkins are mushy and soft, this means they have gone bad and are ready to be composted.
  • Length of time to decompose: Once you cut a pumpkin up, it will take about 5 to 10 days to start to rot in a compost pile. Note that thicker rinds take longer to compost, so you may need to cut these into even smaller pieces.