Great Pumpkin Raid of 2009

A trunk-full of halloween pumpkins – little do they know what horrors lie ahead!

If only I had a pick-up truck!

Last week, on a whim, I decided to put a little ad on a free classifieds website to see if I could round up some fall leaves and perhaps some leftover pumpkins. It was almost more of an experiment just to see if people would respond than an actual attempt to round up a lot of good worm composting material – especially given how late I ended up posting it (after Halloween, and towards the end of leaf-raking season).

Well, I did manage to get some nibbles, and one of these was from a person who lives about 2 minutes (by car) from me – someone who was more than happy to give me her five pumpkins. SWEET!

For once, procrastination actually ended up being beneficial! I didn’t head over to pick up the pumpkins until the evening before garbage pick-up, so as it turns out there were a fair number of pumpkins ‘kicked to the curb’ by other people as well. I’ve never been the type of person who is all that comfortable taking other people’s garbage – but I decided to step outside of my comfort zone (haha) and save some pumpkins from ending up in the landfill.

In some ways it is definitely a little disappointing to see anyone, let alone numerous people, tossing their pumpkins out with the regular garbage – but in their defence, this particular neighborhood is quite new so I’m not too surprised that backyard composting isn’t as common out there yet. Interestingly enough, as I drove back towards home (through older neighborhoods) I couldn’t find a single pumpkin sitting out for garbage day. There do seem to be lots of pumpkins still sitting on people’s porches etc though, so I might go out for a second round of pumpking picking this week.

I am quite happy to have all this valuable worm food available these days since I am preparing my outdoor beds for their winter slumber. To make the situation even better, after some really cold temps this past week, we are now into a warm, sunny period for a few days. Rather than simply raking up my own leaves, I’ve decided to take advantage of the nice weather and give my lawn one last cut. In other words, I’m going to end up with a LOT of mulched leaves mixed with grass clippings – an excellent material to provide both insulation and food value for my worm beds. I also recently secured a couple of large straw bales, so everything seems to be coming together nicely!

I was thinking it might be fun to put together a little video about this experience (once I’ve collected more pumpkins and/or added the material to my beds), but here are a few more pictures to tide you over until then!


Giving me the evil glare right to the end!

Our own jack-o-lantern was the last to go. Sorry, buddy – the worms need to eat!

I managed to get all but one pumpkin in the can – lots o’ worm food!

**Want Even More Fun With Worms? Sign Up for the RWC E-mail List Today!**
Previous Post

Rabbit Manure & Bedding & Baking Soda, Oh My!

Next Post

Mosquito Dunk Fruit Fly Fungus Gnat Update


  1. That is so cool!

  2. I checked my jack o laterns to see if they were moldy. I added 24 1/2 lbs. of halloween fun to my bin.

    • Jeff
    • November 8, 2009

    Great idea, Bentley! This was my second year to haul excess pumpkin inventory from an Agway store… about 2,000#.

    The posting idea is slick… I always wanted to run a Chrysenthimum (spell checker broken) rescue… maybe Craigslist is the solution!

    On My commute to Harrisburg I take mostly side roads and residential routes… in a Toyota mini pickup… Almost every day I’m loaded with bags of grass clippings and bagged leaves for my compost. Thank you to all those wonderful people who set it at the curb for me!

    • Eve
    • November 8, 2009

    If you want the get those pumpkins decomposing quickly in the vermi way. You can mix a couple handfuls of vermicompost into chopped the pumpkin. Pumpkin seem to get eaten even faster if you mix in a starter. But if you add too much started pumpkin at one time the pumpkin can get hot.
    I got the pumpkin to warm up in my bin last year.

    A thought if you are going to do another winter worm composting series gather some pumpkins for the pile. You wouldn’t have to chop those up.

  3. My neighbors are all giving me pumpkins too. All my worm bins are going gonzo with pumpkin. I checked my outdoor bin, where I had a big orange top section, and there where some of the fattest, reddest, wigglers I had ever seen attached to Old Jack.

    • Carolyn
    • November 9, 2009

    For those pumpkin rich, maybe leave the best ones in the bank and feed the ones that rot first, thus extending the feast until nearly the the New Year. Those pictures are macabre, so fitting of the season.

    • Bentley
    • November 9, 2009

    JEFF – Wow! 2000?! Now that is impressive!
    EVE – Good points. While I didn’t add handfuls of vermicompost, I forgot to mention that I DID dip my shovel in a worm bed a few times while doing my chopping – just as you are suggesting, this was intended as a means of inoculating the material with decomposition microbes.

    Not sure if I’ll have enough pumpkins to add to my winter bin this year (these trench beds are my first priority) but we shall see! Adding bulky materials, thus providing more of a ‘slow-release’ food value, is definitely a good suggestion!
    HEATHER – That is cool! Yeah, there is something about the cucumber family (which includes melons) and Red Worms. They go utterly crazy for this stuff. I’m hopeful that the nice weather we’ve been having as of late will help to kickstart the break-down of my pumpkin waste. It was so cold last week that decomposition seemed to almost reach a stand-still in my outdoor beds.
    CAROLYN – Great suggestion! If I had lots and lots of them I would definitely be holding on to as many as possible, in preparation for feeding my big winter bin later on. Pumpkins, squash etc are great since they do last for quite some time when intact.

    • Kuan
    • November 9, 2009

    Great job picking up the much worm food! I am picking up more pumpkins from my coworker today (12 of them). Some already started to go mush. Since I only have a small rubbermaid worm box (18 gal), I think I will try to scoop some worms up and put them inside the carved pumpkins to see if they will help eat some of the pumpkins that way.

    DH cut the lawn yesterday morning so we now have lots of mulched leaves with grass clippings too!! He promised to make the flow through bin for me this week so hopefully the pumpkins and mulched leaves/grass clipping can wait!


    • Vee
    • November 10, 2009

    Hi Bentley, my worms love pumpkins but they also love onions, and i cook with alot of onions and the pieces i don’t use the worms get it, i also never smell anything, they also love garlic:) Vee

    • Jesse
    • November 16, 2009

    Hi Bentley!
    I too have been pan handling for the neighborhood Jack O’s. My RWs love the stuff. I also wanted to mention that about two or so months ago I got my hands on several squash and gourds from my mom-in-law. They seem to love these as much as pumpkin….go figure-they are all closely related. Just for kicks I “headed” a giant gourd and chucked it into my outdoor worm bed. The gourd was pretty mature and had begun to harden more than I had initially noticed. In any case, about 3-4 days later I took a look and the hardened gourd was chalked full of worms just finishing off the last inner morsels of that particular gourd. The gourd was firm/hard enough to retain it’s integrity and I could simply pluck it out and carry it around with no fear of it crumbling in my hands. Long story short…I think I have stumbled upon a great way to cull worms for harvesting in the future. I hope to send you some pics within the week. I would love to have the honer of naming a new worm harvesting technique but alas, I haven’t had an original idea since I was about 3 years old…and that one wasn’t even that great. Here is a link to an interesting article about gourds,squash,pumpkins etc. I want to look into some other related species and their properties.
    p.s. I’ve also taken advantage of the mild weather and built 3 great big leaf walls in my back yard….great suggestion!

    • Bentley
    • November 20, 2009

    Thanks for chiming in everyone (apologies for the delay responding). I finally used my pumpkin material earlier in the week while setting up my winter windrow bed (just wrote about that one today). It was almost totally liquefied – thankfully it was pretty cold out so it didn’t seem to have any bad odor to it. I mixed it with a mix of mulched leaves/grass to help give it some structure. I suspect the worms are going to love it – hopefully it will help to kickstart some warming action in the bed!

    JESSE – Your gourd trap idea sounds interesting. I have tried buried mesh bags with tempting stuff like cantaloupe in them as traps, but with limited success. Do keep me posted – you may be on to something there!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Get Your Free Vermicomposting Guide!

* Join the Red Worm Composting E-Mail List Today *