Pumpkins post Halloween

What to do with your leftover pumpkins after enjoying them over Halloween? It’s a question I’m sure a lot of you are currently asking yourself and there is a variety of ways to dispose of your pumpkins.

Each year about 39.9 million pumpkins are bought for decorating. Yet many will be carved and not cooked. Around 22 million pumpkins will go to waste this year and that’s around £32 million worth of edible food.

So, I wanted to shine a light on a few helpful food ideas to prevent them going to waste! Pumpkins are cheap, nutritious and can be cooked in a variety of ways. Carving pumpkins are still perfectly edible and can be used for soups, stews, curries or pumpkin pie. Another option is blending up the flesh in a food processor and making a homemade pumpkin spice latte. Just add coffee, milk, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. It’s only the stalk that isn’t edible. The rest can even be frozen if it’s not cooked immediately after Halloween. 

A Variety of animals can eat pumpkins, so take them outside after they’ve had their Halloween use. Wildlife such as squirrels, birds, foxes and maybe even badgers all will enjoy your leftover pumpkins.

Here at Wingham we have lots of animals that are partial to a bit of pumpkin. The Tapirs, porcupines, pigs, goats and wallabies probably favour the pumpkins the most on the Mammal section. There are some animals that won’t really eat pumpkins. However, they can still prove to be useful as we can give it to them as a form of enrichment. It’s always good fun to see what they make of it especially with animals like our big cats.

With the harsher winter weather on its way, it’s a great time to provide additional food to your garden wildlife. It can take a few weeks for a pumpkin to start rotting. So, when it does you can compost it or bury it. All kinds of insects and worms can benefit from the nutrients of pumpkins, and this can make the soil more fertile.

While pumpkin isn’t toxic to hedgehogs, it isn’t very healthy for them. Hedgehogs are prone to diarrhoea when they eat pumpkins thanks to the amount of fibre within them. This can lead to dehydration. To keep our hedgehogs safe make sure the leftovers are out of reach and put high up onto bird tables or feeders. Now that you know your Halloween pumpkins are safe for most wildlife, you can start preparing the leftovers for your local garden visitors. 

While you can leave a whole carved pumpkin out but it’s best to cut it up once you’re done with it into smaller chunks so it’s easier to eat. However, when leaving them out for wildlife always remember to remove any candles or accessories, especially small objects that could get lodged in an animal’s throat and any areas with melted wax.

Protecting wildlife on Bonfire Night

With more bonfires being lit in our gardens and November 5th events coming up, we must consider the impact on our garden wildlife. Particularly on hedgehogs and toads.

November is a key hibernation month for many species. Therefore a large pile of garden waste poses the perfect dry habitat for a winter sleep. Many gardeners pile up waste over the course of a few weeks and then set fire to it on Bonfire Night. This can be devastating for hedgehogs and other wildlife caught inside.

If you do find a hedgehog amongst any piles, then I suggest picking it up with gardening gloves along with any nesting material it may have been sitting in and then transfer it into a cardboard box lined with newspaper. Relocate the box to a safe location that is far from any fires or wait until the bonfire is over. Dampen down the fire site with water before releasing the hedgehog under a bush or a log pile. 

If you’ve been piling garden waste up for a few weeks, there’s a good chance wildlife will be using it. This can include anything from ladybirds, centipedes and other invertebrates to amphibians and small mammals, such as hedgehogs. By simply taking apart and rebuilding your bonfire on the day you light it, you can potentially save lives. Insects are less noticeable than amphibians and mammals, so it’s worth shaking bits of garden waste to dislodge insects from the material.

I hope this has inspired you and have a great weekend of celebrations.

About Matt - Head keeper