Dumping pumpkins in the woods is bad for wildlife says Forestry England expert
Pumpkins are an autumnal and Halloween staple, but what to do with your wonderful carved lantern once the spooky season is over?
Research shows that around 8 million pumpkins could be part of this year’s Halloween fun. Forestry England are asking people to ignore online tips and tricks telling people to toss their pumpkins in the woods for wildlife and instead are offering some great alternatives.
Kate Wollen, Assistant Ecologist, Forestry England says:
“We see many posts on social media encouraging people to leave pumpkins in the woods for wildlife to eat, but please do not do this. Pumpkins are not natural to the woodland and while some wildlife may enjoy a tasty snack it can make others, such as hedgehogs, very poorly.
“Feeding pumpkins, or any other food in the forest, to birds, foxes, badgers, deer, and boar can make them unwell and can spread disease.
“Pumpkins are also often decorated and have things such as candles in them. Animals eating the pumpkins could then eat a foreign object and this could kill them.”
To protect our forest wildlife and to help reduce food waste, Kate suggests using the flesh to make a delicious pumpkin soup or adding your discarded pumpkin waste to your compost to make a rich soil amendment for next year’s vegetable garden.
“There are lots of great ways to use your pumpkin after Halloween at home, and my favourites are to use the flesh to make a hearty soup, or to add to my compost. They are 90% water so are a great composting material, adding a great source of nitrogen and moisture to my compost bin each year.”
Here are some further ways you can give your pumpkin a new lease of life!
Pumpkin bird feeder
Recycle the tough outer skin to make a temporary bird feeder for your garden. Simply cut the tough outer skin in half, pierce a hole in the top, gently loop wire through and use this to hang your pumpkin from a tree branch. Once hung, hold the pumpkin gently fill the pit with your favourite bird feed. Make sure to remove the feeder when the pumpkin starts to rot.
Make a pumpkin bowl
Looking for something a bit different to offer your treats in this Halloween? A pumpkinbowl will be a hit with any trick or treaters that come knocking. Simply clean your carved pumpkin, line with a cloth, and fill with sweets and chocolate!
Pass along your pumpkins
If you don’t want to deal with the pumpkins yourself, there are some places that will take them off your hands. See if you can donate leftover pumpkins to zoos, animal shelters, farms, or community gardens. They'll be grateful for the compost material or animal snacks.