It’s the most wonderful (and perhaps wasteful) time of the year! It's time for pumpkin patches to get squashed (no pun intended) and apple orchards to be filled with eager families who pick more than they can eat. As the temperature drops, houses once flaunting ‘gone to the beach’ signs and flip flops are now displaying pumpkins, gourds, and bales of straw. But what do you do with your pumpkins and corn stalks once the snow begins to fall and snowmen are the new seasonal craze?
Instead of leaving them out for the local tweens to demolish or simply throwing them in the trash, reuse these natural materials in your recipes, garden or even recreate them into new home accessories. Wondering what to do with that rotting jack-o-lantern on your porch? One of the most popular things you could do is eat it! Cut the pumpkin into quarters, take out the seeds, roast them with a little salt and enjoy a delicious snack. Warning: your hands and arms will get covered with orange guts in the process. Once you’ve emptied all the seeds out, make homemade pumpkin puree for all of those fall recipes you’ve wanted to make. Put the quartered pumpkin onto a baking sheet and roast at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until tender. After roasting, the skin should peel off rather easily. Place the skinless, tender pumpkin into a blender, or food processor with a little bit of water and blend away. The end product will be a smooth and delicious pumpkin puree, perfect to make a pumpkin pie!
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Been thinking about what to do with those bales of straw that have seen better days? Simply put it into your garden! This may not be the prime time of the year for gardening, but the benefits of putting hay into your garden are superb. According to the article Straw Turns to Gold on The Old Farmer's Almanac website, straw not only defends your garden against the consequences of drought, but it also prevents diseases in crops such as tomatoes, peppers and squash. All you have to do is mulch your vegetable garden with a 6-inch layer of straw and wait as it works its magic. Just be sure its straw and not hay. Although they come from the same plant, hay is the seedy top of the grass crop while straw is the bottom woody part that is slow to decompose.
In spite of all of their shapes, sizes and colors, gourds have few uses. In fact most gourds aren't even edible. However, their odd varieties make them great decorations for your dining room table. When the time comes to replace squash with snowmen, turn that old gourd into a candle to keep you warm throughout the dreary winter. All you’ll need is an old gourd, knife, candle wick, wax and perhaps a candle scent if you wish for it to smell. Simply cut the top off the gourd, scrape out the inside, and heat the wax in a double boiler. As the wax is melting, stir in drops of your selected scent, and fasten the wick to the bottom of the hallow gourd. Carefully pour the melted wax into the gourd and allow it five to six hours to harden and viola, you have a new festive candle! This is just another reason why natural decorations are superior to disposable, plastic house trimmings. Not only do you get a season of fabulous, festive embellishments, but you get a new snack, fertilizer or candle as well!