How to Make a Mini-Worm Composter


According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 12 percent of the 250 million tons of garbage Americans produced in 2008 consisted of food scraps. Many people interested in reducing the amount of food waste that they put in their garbage turn to worm composting. According to Mike McGrath, compost expert and author of "Mike McGrath's Book of Compost," you can produce worm compost in a container as small as a 5-gallon bucket. Not only is a 5-gallon-bucket mini-worm composter a more manageable size than larger bins, it is also easier to move around. Your mini-worm composter should be able to handle about 1 to 1 ½ pounds of weekly food waste.

Step 1

Select a 5-gallon bucket to use for your mini-worm composter. Consider recycling an old plastic bucket, which is a common option as long as it hasn't contained any toxic chemicals in the past. If you're concerned about chemicals leaching into your compost, purchase a new 5-gallon plastic bucket at a home improvement store or garden center.

Step 2

Flip the 5-gallon bucket upside-down on the ground and drill 10 to 12 holes in the bottom with a ¼-inch drill bit. Make sure the holes are evenly spaced across the entire base of the bucket to ensure adequate drainage.

Step 3

Turn the bucket right-side-up and measure down 3 to 4 inches from the top edge. Mark the location and drill a row of holes around the circumference of the bucket using a 1/16-inch drill bit. Make the holes about 2 inches apart. Drill a second row of holes 2 inches down from the first row to provide additional ventilation for your worm population.

Step 4

Shred newspaper and dead leaves into pieces that are no wider than about 1½ inches. Sprinkle a 2-inch layer of the shredded bedding into the bottom of your mini-worm composter. Dampen the bedding by misting it with water from a spray bottle. Layer and mist the bedding until the bucket is about 2/3 full.

Step 5

Dump your red worms on top of the bedding and cover the top of the bucket with a piece of cardboard. Place the mini-worm composter in a warm, dry location such as the cabinet under your kitchen sink. Wait several hours for your worms to burrow into the bedding.

Step 6

Open the bucket and peel back several inches of bedding to deposit the food waste in the bin; cover the food with 3 to 4 inches of bedding to minimize possible odor problems and allow the worms to get to the food more quickly. Repeat this feeding process one to twp times per week.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid giving your worms foods such as meat waste, milk products and oily foods that take a long time to decompose or that may cause odor problems.

Things You'll Need

  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Drill with 1/4-inch bit and 1/16-inch bit
  • Old newspaper and dead leaves
  • Spray bottle
  • Water
  • Red worms
  • Cardboard
  • Food scraps


  • US EPA: 2008 Municipal Solid Waste Facts and Figures
  • "Mike McGrath's Book of Compost;" Mike McGrath; 2006
  • "The Worm Book;" Janet Hogan Taylor & Loren Nancarrow; 1998
Keywords: worm compost, worm bin, mini-worm composter

About this Author

Regan Hennessy has been writing professionally for 11 years. A freelance copywriter and certified teacher, Hennessy specializes in the areas of parenting, health, education, agriculture and personal finance. During her time with Demand Studios, Hennessy has produced content for Ehow, Answerbag and Travels. Hennessy graduated from Lycoming College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.