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Build your own Worm Composting Bin for under $20 - with worms included!

Vermicomposting or worm composting is the easiest way to recycle certain food wastes, and is ideal for people who do not have an outdoor compost pile.

Composting with worms utilizes vegetative food wastes (recycling rather than creating trash) creating a worthwhile garden product of high quality "worm casting" compost.

It is done with "redworms" (Eisenia foetida) who are happiest at temperatures between 50-70° F. They can be kept indoors at home, school, or the office. As with outdoor composting, keep the food waste scraps to vegetables & peelings, egg shells, coffee grounds, and tea leaves - all items you would ordinarily toss into the trash - and recycle them into gardeners' "Black Gold!".

Place redworms in a plastic box or bin (with air vent holes) which can be built or purchased, along with "bedding" of shredded cardboard and/or paper moistened to about 75% water content. The container should be wide enough so that food scraps can be buried in a different location each time. The dimensions of the container and the amount of worms required initially will depend on how much organic food waste will need to be composted each week, but an average family can get away with a box about the size of a shoebox.

Listed below are 10 easy steps to building your own vermicomposting bin in under an hour!

Supplies Needed

worm composting bins

From around the house, you will need a drill with 1/16 inch drill bit, some old newspaper, access to water, and a few kitchen scraps.

Items to purchase:

  • 2 nesting - opaque plastic containers (6"h x12"w x 12"d)with tight fitting lids
    (pictured above - bought at Target for $ 3.99 each)
  • red worms (Eisenia foetida) or red earthworms (Lumbricus rubellus) - 2 or 3 containers
    (try your local bait shop - usually $ 2.99 per container - that's about 50 hard working worms)


Step 1:

Drill about 40-50 holes, evenly spaced in the bottom of one container. This is going to be the inside container, and will hold the worms, bedding, and kitchen scraps. The reason for the holes in the bottom is to allow for the extra moisture drippings (tea leachate) to escape, so the worms aren't too wet. You can use these drippings in your garden as well. Feel free to empty them as often as you would like.

worm composting step 1


Step 2:

Put the container you just drilled holes in the bottom, INSIDE the 2nd container. Then, drill about a dozen holes per side, around the perimeter of the inside container at a level above the outside container. These holes are to create a draft ventilation system in your worm compost bin. Air will enter these holes and heat will escape from the holes that will be drilled in the lid in Step 9.

worm composting step 2


Step 3:

Purchase your red worms at a local bait shop. Each container should have about 3 dozen worms. You can start your bin with one container, or buy two containers if you have a large family, or make lots of usable kitchen scraps. Each worm can eat about half its weight per day, so remember that as you add kitchen scraps. You can start slowly, as the worms will multiply if they are happy, and then you can add more scraps.

Contact Clover's Garden Center for a resource of worms in your area:

worm composting step 3


Step 4:

Shred some newspaper, enough to loosely fill your container, and place it in the kitchen sink.

worm composting step 4


Step 5:

Add water to your shredded paper - so it has the dampness of a wrung-out sponge.

worm composting step 5

Step 6:

Add about 1/2 of the damp paper to your inner compost bin, making sure you have your two bins nested to catch any dripping water. Then, place some kitchen scraps on top of the bedding. A banana peel, crushed egg shells, coffee grounds, and lettuce scraps were used here.

worm composting step 6


Step 7:

It's time to add the worms! Make them happy, by placing the contents of the worm container (worms & bedding material) on top of the kitchen scraps - maybe even spread them out a bit.

worm composting step 7


Step 8:

Place the remaining 1/2 of the dampened newspaper on top of the worms and kitchen scraps.

Note: when you add kitchen scraps to your compost bin, place them under the top layer of paper bedding.

worm composting step 8


Step 9:

Place the lid on the inside container, and drill 30-40 holes in the lid. These holes will allow the excess heat of decomposition to escape the top of the composter.

worm composting step 9


Step 10:

Place your wonderful worm composting bin somewhere conveniently located in/near the kitchen.

Note: Worms like to work in warm (50-70° F), and dark conditions. Please do not put them in the rain or hot sun.

worm composting step 10

The Finished Product

You can start harvesting the worm castings after about 2-3 months.

Coming Soon! Pictures of "Black Gold!"



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web page updated: 02.26.14