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Compost Pumpkin

October 21, 2019

Happy Halloween! Did you know, pumpkins are native to the United States? Pumpkins are grown for seeds, puree, decorations and Jack'O Lanterns.

 

Students are celebrating Halloween by investigating the phenomenon of decomposing pumpkins as a part of the plant's life cycle. Have you ever wondered what happens the millions of Jack'O Lanterns after Halloween? They usually begin to rot, and before long, mom or dad toss them in the trash can... but what if there was a better use for decaying pumpkins? 

Local Linn County second grade students discovered what happens to a pumpkin over time by reading a story called "Pumpkin Jack!" The pumpkin begins to change color as mold spreads over the crumpled pumpkin rind. As the pumpkin flattens it will begin to lose its shape. 

This is a good time to toss the decomposing pumpkin into the backyard, garden, compost bin, or to animals. Deer and cows will often munch on pumpkins left over in a field. According to the National Agriculture in the Classroom website, "decomposition is a natural process through which nutrients are recycled back into the soil. Insects, fungus, and bacteria are decomposers that eat the dead tissue from the pumpkin and excrete it in a form that helps live plants grow. In nature, dead plants and animals decompose and become humus. Humus acts like a sponge to help soil hold water. It also traps air in the soil and provides nutrients. Plants need air, water, light, and nutrients to grow."

Composting is a great way to recycle rotten fruits and vegetables. The nutrients replenish the soil in preparation for next year's crop. It is a win, win! We reduce food waste and we keep the decomposing foods out of the landfill. 

Many farmers compost by keeping the harvested residue on the fields.  In spring, a farmer will till the crop reside into the soil or use a method called no-till which is planting directly into the residue.

How do you plan to celebrate this spooky holiday? Trick or treating with the kids? Watching a fun movie? Carving pumpkins? Filling up on candy? Visiting a haunted house? Or enjoying a slice of pumpkin pie? However you plan to celebrate, we hope you have a wonderful day and remember to recycle your pumpkin! 

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