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Beware of the scare of the killer pumpkins

By Dennis Minich

Halloween is supposed to be scary. So many things are meant to be frightening: witches, ghosts, goblins, vampires, unicorns (no, not unicorns, my mistake), haunted houses, zombies, black cats, the price of candy; all those things that might go bump in the night. But who would have ever guessed that the scariest of all might be pumpkins. Not just pumpkins carved like jack-o-lanterns and not just pumpkins that have been smashed in the middle of the road; no, every single pumpkin.

I will be honest, I never had considered a pumpkin to be especially worrisome, with the possible exception of eating too much pie. But according to an email I received this week, pumpkins could very well be a major contributor to the end of the world. And it is being suggested that possibly Halloween should be “cancelled.” An explanation is an order. Like most everyone, I receive a lot of emails. Some are business related, some are personal, but most are Spam. As a newspaper though, we are on the mailing list for a lot of public relations agencies so we get many stories pitched to us on a regular basis. A few are of interest, most are not. For example, I received one this week on proper preparations for a colonoscopy and another about the perfect way to entertain: matching the proper tea and chocolate. I don’t think there is a connection between the two, but maybe?

But the most frightening one to come in was all about pumpkins destroying the world. Actually, pumpkins are destroying the world in several ways. The first comes with their growth. Citing the “Farmer’s Almanac,” the press release informs that it takes about one inch of rain per week during their growing season which is typically 10 to 14 weeks long. With several hundreds of millions of pumpkins being grown, they are commanding a great deal of water which is “an increasingly unstable resource as a result of climate change.” Yikes, they are taking up a lot of water.

Of course, pumpkins also require lots of fertilizer and room to grow. I guess I never thought about the urban blight caused by the pumpkin, but maybe I should. I do have a suggestion, if there is a concern about fertilizer, they might be able to talk to the folks about colonoscopy preparations, they might be able to help, just a thought. Now, just because a pumpkin has been released from the vine and is no longer taking up water or space, it is still a threat to our existence, because they are used for their desired purpose; cut up, pies or just decor; many people throw them away, and that’s a problem. According to statistics in the press release, a survey of 1,250 Americans found 82 percent were going to purchase a pumpkin this fall. About 59 percent plan to buy two to five pumpkins. About 16 percent have no appreciation for the damage they are causing the world because they will buy six to 10 pumpkins. Finally, the most hedonist 10 percent of us, will purchase more than 10 pumpkins this fall. Since about half of the people purchasing pumpkins say they will throw them away at the end of the season, somewhere between 164 million and 344 million pumpkins will end up in landfills. The amount of methane gas released in landfills every year apparently is worse than the gas produced by farting cows in the United States.

All this news is so frightening, I don’t know if I have any room left in my brain to fear masquerading “Evil Batmen” or “Killer Clowns.” That danger just shrinks in comparison to all of the damage being done by pumpkins.

There is good news, according to the press release. Much of the damage can be averted if instead of simply tossing the gourds, you compost them. It appears by cutting them up and putting them in a pile with leaves and twigs and the like, they now longer release the methane into the atmosphere. It is noted, be sure to get all of the seeds out of the pumpkins before composting, otherwise you might inadvertently start a new pumpkin patch. And as we’ve learned, that could take up all of your water and fertilizer, and that’s jus too scary to think about.

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