Monday, November 8, 2010

The Great Pumpkin Heist

Helping Jack-o-Lanterns find a better final resting place

This year Halloween really got under my skin, and it wasn’t the spooks in the streets that got me.  In fact, it was more post-Halloween angst that was making me anxious and on edge.  I kept looking at all those jack-o-lanterns on everyone’s porch and envisioning their final journey.  All that organic material headed to the landfill! I was having a hard time accepting this, and so I decided that this year I was going to do a little something about it. My only defense for my behavior is to say that living in an urban area makes me extremely aware of the wasted materials we send to the dump that should (in my opinion) be going back to improving our mostly poor urban soil.

So, last night Guy and I went on an undercover mission in search of trashed pumpkins. Guy drove the get away truck while I jumped out and snatched pumpkins peaking out from under trashcan lids.  In a matter of about 30 minutes we had gathered seven pumpkins to join the 7-8 pumpkins I already had from a friend who noticed a nursery that had cleaned pumpkins to sell as “ready to carve.” She stopped and asked if she could have what was left. They were glad to get rid of them. Thank goodness for crazy friends.

However, I suddenly found myself with all these pumpkins, and I’m not set up very well for composting. I really don’t have room for a large composting bin. Instead I have a tumbling composting barrel for my kitchen waste and a small freestanding pile for stuff I gather out of the yard during the summer.  In the fall I just compost in place.  The vegetable plants I cut down this fall I cut up into smaller pieces and dropped them right there. I’m working now to get the beds covered with leaf mulch and horse manure before winter sets in.

Nursery pumpkins in the new bed 

I brought home the nursery pumpkins this past weekend and smashed and added them to the new bed. I’m making, a sort of hugelkultur/sheet mulch bed.  The ones I got on our nighttime raid will be broken up this coming weekend and added to the existing gardens as a layer to be covered by leaf mulch and horse manure. 

I decided I needed to break them up a bit

First layer of free compost covering
the broken pumpkins.

I’m discovering that looking for organic materials can make me do some strange things. 
Happy Jack-o-Lantern

Don’t forget to compost your pumpkin. Or, if you live in St Louis I have room for a few more.


  1. Spooktacular! You will have the most luscious compost. A noble undercover mission!

  2. Thanks. It was great fun. I'm finding that focusing on living simply is very satisfying.