How to Compost Pumpkins: Tips for Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns

A pumpkin sitting on crunchy brown leaves

It’s almost time for the annual bonanza of falling leaves and pumpkin-spiced everything. It’s also the time of year where pumpkins take over more than just our lattes. In our pies, on our front porches and in our gardens - pumpkins are a fall staple. But what should you do with the pumpkins once they’ve lived out their lifecycle? Can a pumpkin go in the compost?

Not only would adding your old pumpkin to the compost keep it out of the landfill, it would also be an excellent way to prep your garden - if you have one - for next year. Cleaning up after summer is an essential part of any gardener’s routine. And if done right, you can make your garden soil even better!

Skip ahead to read about the ins and outs of pumpkin compost, or continue on to learn more about which parts of a pumpkin are compostable.



First up, can you really compost pumpkins?


Can you compost pumpkins?

A pile of bright orange pumpkins

Pumpkins are a biennial member of the squash family and are mostly water and fiber. This makes them an excellent choice for your compost bin as they add nitrogen and moisture. Just make sure to scrape off any candle wax or glitter before adding them to your bin or backyard compost pile.


Can you compost pumpkin seeds?

A pair of hands holding pumpkin seeds in a kitchen

You can compost pumpkin seeds just like the rest of the plant. It’s actually better for your compost heap to add them whole, as grinding them up will make them harder to break down. Pumpkin seeds are rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals – and they’re easily composted along with the rest of the plant. 


Can you compost painted pumpkins after Halloween?

Three painted jack-o-lanterns

As long as you use biodegradable paints, there’s no harm in putting your painted pumpkins in the compost. Just make sure they’re thoroughly dry first. If you want to be sure that when you compost pumpkins after Halloween the painted ones don’t affect the rest of the compost, place them at the bottom of your pile. 


 


 

How to compost pumpkins: 4 easy methods

There’s more than one way to compost a pumpkin, which is great news for those of us who don’t have a backyard pile. Here are four different ways to turn your old pumpkin - or pumpkin scraps - into something usable.


1. Add them to your compost heap

Decomposing pumpkins in an outdoor compost pile

Most parts of the pumpkin are compostable, including the leaves and the pumpkin flesh. Pumpkins are great for composting because they’re rich in fiber, which attracts microbes and speeds up the composting process. And while you can try to compost it whole, it may not break down as quickly, so try cutting smaller pumpkin chunks first.


2. Use an electric composter

Lomi filled with veggie scraps next to a full pumpkin and other whole produce

It might be hard to believe a small countertop appliance like Lomi can turn a large pumpkin into nutrient-rich fertilizer, but it can! Lomi may be the size of a bread maker, but it’s mighty. Simply cut your pumpkin pieces into smaller chunks, place them inside Lomi’s bucket and run the Grow mode. In 16-20 hours your pumpkin scraps will be gone and in their place will be microbe-filled soil that you can add to your indoor and outdoor plants.

 

Lomi by Pela

Lomi

★★★★★

Lomi allows you to turn food waste into plant-ready nutrients in under 24 hours. Boost your plants while reducing your waste.


 

3. Bring them to your community garden

Carved pumpkin scraps in a black bin

Whether you garden in your own yard – or don’t garden at all – there’s likely a community garden in your town or city that would be happy to take your pumpkin scraps. The local greenthumbs can add pumpkin to a shared compost pile, or they can simply dig a trench in the community garden and bury the pieces along with any other yard waste beneath the soil.


4. Add them to your municipal compost bin

Pumpkins in a blue compost bin outside a house

If none of the above options are available to you, send your pumpkin to your town or city’s municipal compost heap. Most municipalities now have organic pickup alongside recycling and trash. If you aren’t sure whether that’s an option where you live, make sure to check your area’s local website. Then store your pumpkin with other food waste in a kitchen compost container until pickup day.


 


 

Top 5 tips for composting pumpkins after Halloween

Now that you know pumpkins are fully biodegradable, here are five tips to get the most out of your pumpkin composting experience.

  1. Wash or cut off any decorations that aren’t biodegradable: Pumpkins are compostable, but things such as glitter, stickers and melted candle wax are not. If you added any of these decorations, make sure to either wash or cut them off.
  1. Cut your pumpkins into smaller pieces: Speed up the composting process by cutting large chunks of pumpkin into smaller bits. Pieces of pumpkins should be about six inches long before heading into the compost pile.
  1. Save your seeds: Sure, you can compost your pumpkin – seeds and all, but why not create a tasty snack by roasting them in the oven. Another fantastic thing to do with saved pumpkin seeds is keep them until spring and then plant them in your garden.
  1. Water your pile sparingly: Keep your compost moist, but not soggy. Pumpkins break down more easily if they’re kept a little bit wet, but not soaked.
  1. Wait until fall: You can compost pumpkins any time of year, but autumn is the best time to add them to your compost pile because that’s the end of their growing cycle. If you have a bunch of pumpkins in your garden, choose the best for decorating and eating and compost the ones you aren’t going to use.

Try Lomi - the quickest way to compost your fall pumpkins

Lomi before and after image

If you have a backyard compost setup - that’s great! Adding your leftover pumpkin scraps to the pile will make for healthy soil you can place in your garden next year. However, a lot of us don’t have the time or the space for a backyard pile and that’s where Lomi comes in.

Lomi uses a mix of oxygen, heat, and abrasion to speed up the natural decomposition process. What takes weeks or months in the backyard takes mere hours with Lomi. It truly is the most magical thing you can do with a pumpkin!


 


 

Now that you know what to do with your pumpkins, you can turn them into valuable garden fertilizer. Be sure to put your pumpkins in the compost, and they’ll be ready to help your spring plants grow in no time!

Don’t forget to check out what others are saying about Lomi. And if you want to learn more about compost dos and don’ts, we’ve got answers to the most commonly asked questions right here.


Written by: Larissa Swayze