Turn your disintegrating Jack O’Lantern into a garden experiment

Moldy pumpkins
@kelliehartwell is very proud to share this portrait of her moldy pumpkins.
Her kids noted how "the mold brought out the pumpkin's eyes."

Welcome to the lovely week after Halloween…the moment in which we can breathe and enjoy the crisp, Fall air and the falling leaves before we descend into holiday planning. (Right? At least, that's where I am.)

Hopefully by now a respectable dent has been made in the Halloween candy haul and your decorations are either put away or are starting to come down. If you didn't decorate this year, you're ahead of the curve!

But what about the Jack O'Lantern? That pumpkin that looked so perky and festive just a few nights ago but, now, is melting on your front porch? Or is, perhaps, incubating a new species of mold?

@angelac1313 reminded me of an unintentional Parent Hack I "invented" a few years ago when I delayed too long in disposing of our Halloween pumpkins. If you leave your pumpkin to rot in peace in a sunny spot in your back yard (assuming there are a few seeds left in there), you may get a surprise pumpkin vine next year! And maybe even a free pumpkin or two.

I know. Calling this a Parent Hack is a reach since it's little more than thinly-veiled avoidance of a disgusting job. But the year we got a surprise pumpkin vine it was a MAJOR source of delight for the kids. Yes, the vine completely obscured the path from the driveway to the back door, but it was so fun to watch it grow (squash grows fast). There was a Jack In The Beanstalk quality to the whole thing, and we ended up having some pretty good "lemonade out of lemons" conversations as well. Free pumpkin vine out of rotten Jack O'Lanterns doesn't have the same ring, but I take what I can get.

If you have the room (and the stomach), scoop up your wobbly pumpkin with a shovel and transfer it to your back yard.

Then sit back and wait for the magic to happen.

Related: Prolong the life of cut pumpkins with petroleum jelly

More: Best of Parent Hacks: Gardening with Kids


  1. says

    DUHHHHH! How could I forget that small detail? Yes, Mitbeta, there still need to be a few seeds in there, thank you for the reminder. I’m not the most detail-oriented pumpkin carver out there, so my Jackolanterns always have seeds left inside. I’ve edited the post to reflect.

  2. says

    My favorite childhood book (I remember the wonderful illustrations) was called Mouskin’s Golden House. It was about a mouse who made his winter home inside a jack-o-lantern and as the weather got colder and the mouse settled in for the winter, the jack-o-lantern shut its eyes slowly and kept the mouse cozy. I’m feeling sentimental now. And poor, since the book is no longer in print and costs about $500. http://www.amazon.com/Mousekins-Golden-House-Edna-Miller/dp/0671669729/ref=sr_1_17?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1352153313&sr=1-17&keywords=mousekin%27s+golden+house

  3. Emily says

    There’s another good book to go with this- “Pumpkin Jack” about a boy carving his pumpkin, then putting it out into the garden, and later discovering a new pumpkin plant and nurturing it until he gets a new pumpkin to carve!

  4. says

    Asha, should I put it on my Christmas list?! Actually, I believe the ones that much are in perfect condition and hardback. There is a used paperback in “good” condition I do admit I covet.