RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—This hasn’t been the best growing season for pumpkins. Heavy summer rains and early autumn cold snaps here in the Northeast, across the Midwest, and even the Mountain States like Colorado, led to smaller than normal pumpkins and pumpkin crops. Big pumpkins for Halloween may come at a premium, if you can find one at all, at a pumpkin patch near you. Whether you've brought home a nice organic pumpkin you’d rather eat than carve or you’d like to make the most of what could be your only pumpkin of the season, here are some simple and inexpensive options for creating Halloween pumpkin decorations while still allowing your precious pumpkin to last as long as possible.
#1: The classic pumpkin, without the Halloween carvings.
Have your pumpkin and eat it too—just don't carve it. It’s easy to paint on a scary face, and the pumpkin should last long enough to provide you with roasted seeds and pie filling once Halloween is over. Just use nontoxic, water-based paint (add a drop or two of natural dishwashing liquid to a couple of tablespoons of paint in a paper cup to help it stick to the pumpkin skin). Wash off the paint and trim away any discolored skin when you're ready to cook up the pumpkin.
We're avoiding GMO food this month...come join our No-GMO Challenge!
And join Maria Rodale's discussion about the future of organic food, and why it's important to the future of all of us, on the Atlantic Monthly website.
#2: Grinning ghoul bottles.
Leave the pumpkin for your pies, and make Halloween pumpkin decorations that you can reuse year after year. This recycling project costs almost nothing, is easy enough for even very small children, won’t leave you with a mess to clean up, and the results are quite attractive. You’ll need a clean, clear, empty bottle or jar with the labels removed, a bottle of nontoxic orange water-based paint, black or yellow construction paper, and a glue stick, a small brown paper bag, and a bit of green or brown ribbon, string, or yarn. A two-liter soft-drink bottle or gallon milk jug works well, as does a fat glass pickle jar, and the absolute best is one of those big clear plastic barrels that pretzels or snack mix are sometimes sold in.
Pour a little orange paint into the empty bottle or jar, put the lid on firmly, and shake, rock, and roll it to coat the entire inside a good solid orange (add more paint if needed). If you want to use your faux jack-o-lantern outside, drop in a handful of rocks or sand so it won’t blow away. Cut out paper faces and paste them to the outside. To dress up the “stem,” cut out a circle or star shape from a brown paper bag, and put it over the lid, flat side down and ends up. Pull the ends of the paper into a stem shape in the middle of the top, and tie it at the base with the ribbon. If you have the kind of ribbon you can curl, use the flat edge of a pair of scissors to turn the ends into curly tendrils.