How to Build a Simple Home Worm Composter

How to Build a Simple Home Worm Composter

This worm composter post is based on an assignment I did recently for my Organic Master Gardener course. The course is all wrapped up now and I’m having fun putting everything I’ve learned into practice in my spring garden. I’ve been doing lots of mulching, planting, composting, hoop house-building and (organic) fertilizing. This post is the first of hopefully several that will be based on some of the great techniques I’ve learned in my recent course.

WARNING: If crawly creatures give you the heebie jeebies, you may want to pass over this post.

When I was going to UBC, my roommate actually had one of these worm bins under our sink. I was a little perplexed by it at the time, particularly because we didn’t have much use for the end product other than a few houseplants. But now I can’t seem to get enough compost (this worm bin is actually my fourth active composting system) for my garden.

This project is adapted from instructions provided here and from Gaia College’s Organic Master Gardener course.

Materials

  • 1 plastic storage box, about 17” high (dark – not transparent)
  • 2 box lids
  • 4 plastic garden pots
  • Newspaper, coco coir, or a combination
  • Red wiggler worms (see Victoria Compost Education Center for a list of suppliers in Victoria, BC)
  • 4 or 5 cups of sand
  • Some old leaves or leaf litter

Tools

  • Electric drill
  • ¼ “ drill bit

Instructions

  1. Gather your materials, tools, and special helpers. Make sure to wear your safety vest:
  2. Drill ventilation holes about 1 ½ inches apart near the top edge of the bin:
  3. Drill two rows of four holes in the bottom, plus one hole in each corner:
  4. Shred newspaper into 1” strips:
  5. Soak newspaper and coco coir in water, then squeeze out excess moisture:
  6. Cover the bottom of the bin with 3 – 4” of moist newspaper and coco coir, fluffed up:
  7. Add the sand and leaf litter:
  8. Add the worms to their new home (before they escape from their bucket):
  9. Feed your new worm pets:
  10. Mark where you’ve fed the worms with a wooden skewer. Shall we play “Where’s Wormy?” in this picture?
  11. Close the lid and place the second lid under the box. Prop the box up on 4 overturned garden pots:
  12. Since it’s currently gusting 80km outside, tuck your worms in close to the house and keep them warm with a couple of towels:

 

 



2 thoughts on “How to Build a Simple Home Worm Composter”

  • How long until there is usable compost?
    What about the worms in the first batch? Are some of them added to the second batch to get it going?
    Do you actually need to have two bins going at the same time, one started a little while after the other so that there is always compost ready?

  • Hi Kathleen. What I’ve heard is that when the first bin is done (I will let you know how long mine takes) you can prepare a second bin and nest it in the first. The worms will migrate up into the new bin, leaving their castings behind. You can also use the worm juice (leachate) that is captured in the bottom tray. See this site for important precautions: http://wormcompostinghq.com/what-is-worm-leachate. I’ll let you know how long the whole process takes. I’m a little light on worms to start but once their babies have grown I expect the process to pick up.

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