Re­pur­pos­ing your pump­kins

You can use your spent jack-o-lan­tern to feed the wildlife

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Saltwire Homes - Car­son Arthur Out­door de­sign and life­style ex­pert Car­son Arthur has be­come the voice of en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly land­scape de­sign and loves to help peo­ple max­i­mize their out­door spa­ces.

We of­fi­cially made it through an­other Hal­loween. Now I have a sad look­ing pump­kin sit­ting on my front porch that the squir­rels have been chew­ing on. This year, in­stead of toss­ing it into the for­est, I am go­ing to try some dif­fer­ent ways to make the most of my pump­kin.

The ob­vi­ous an­swer is to com­post it. Pump­kins are a great source of or­ganic mat­ter as they start to break­down in the com­posters. The fact that they have a lot of wa­ter in their struc­ture helps speed the process up even more. Un­for­tu­nately, my com­poster is burst­ing at the seams from all of the plant ma­te­rial that I pulled out of my gar­den, so I am go­ing to try a dif­fer­ent tech­nique. I am go­ing straight into the ground with my jack-olantern this year.

To do this, choose a spot in the yard that will be easy to dig, prefer­ably far enough away from a tree that the roots won’t stop your shovel, but still rel­a­tively close to your gar­den so that the plants will ben­e­fit from the ex­tra nu­tri­ents. Dig a hole that is at least as wide as the pump­kin and about six inches deeper so that noth­ing will dig it up once you’ve buried it.

Next, fill your pump­kin with all of your kitchen or­gan­ics, like egg shells, old bread, even dryer lint. Bury ev­ery­thing in the hole, level the top and walk away. Mother Na­ture does the rest by break­ing down all of the or­ganic mat­ter into some­thing your plants and trees can process. Al­ter­na­tively, you can use your spent jack-o-lan­tern to feed the wildlife. As you’ve prob­a­bly al­ready no­ticed, squir­rels and chip­munks love pump­kin. Birds do too, if the flesh is fine enough for them to eat. Chop your pump­kin up into one to two-inch cubes and toss them in the freezer. This win­ter, keep putting frozen cubes out for the squir­rels at the back of your prop­erty. They will hap­pily steal them for a vi­ta­min-packed snack dur­ing the tough­est part of the year.

As for the birds, heat up those frozen cubes and mash them into a pulp. Jays and chick­adees love the sweet­ness and are at­tracted to the bright colour. In my case, I use the chopped up pieces in a mash that I feed to my chick­ens along with some old ba­nanas and left over oat­meal.

The one thing you don’t want to do with your waxy, spent pump­kins is to throw them into a garbage bag. Not only is it a waste of some­thing that can pro­vide so much more than just dec­o­ra­tion one day a year, but we all need to try and find ways to re­duce the amount we send to the land­fill each year.

Start­ing with a pump­kin just makes sense.

Chop your pump­kin up into one to two-inch cubes and toss them in the freezer. This win­ter, keep putting frozen cubes out for the squir­rels at the back of your prop­erty.

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