How to Compost with Worms in Kentucky


According to the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension, compost worms perform best in temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees F. With an overall average yearly temperature of 53 degrees F in the eastern half of the state and 60 degrees F in the western half of the state, Kentucky provides prime conditions for worm composting. These overall mild temperatures allow you to keep your Kentucky worm bin outside in all but the warmest and coldest times of the year, when the temperature rises above 80 degrees F or drops below freezing, according to Loren Nancarrow, co-author of "The Worm Book."

Step 1

Find a plastic bin that measures no more than about 12 inches in height. Select a bin that provides approximately 1 square foot of surface area for each pound of weekly food waste that your household produces. For example, if your household produces 6 pounds of food waste each week, then you could use a single bin that measures 2 feet by 3 feet.

Step 2

Drill 10 to 15 evenly spaced ¼-inch drainage holes in the base of your worm bin. Make a single row of ventilation holes around the circumference of the worm bin, locating the row 2 inches from the top edge of the bin. Make the ventilation holes in 2-inch increments.

Step 3

Fill the bin ¾ full of finely shredded newspaper and dead leaf bedding. Mist the bedding with water to dampen it slightly. Put your compost worms in the bedding and place the plastic cover loosely on top of the bin.

Step 4

Bury food waste beneath 3 to 4 inches of bedding once or twice per week. Stick with mild food scraps, such as fruit and vegetables; avoid meat, bones, milk products and greasy foods to minimize potential pest problems. Sprinkle plain dirt or crushed eggshells across the surface of the bedding once or twice each month to give your worms grit, which improves their digestion rate, according to Nancarrow.

Step 5

Keep your bin outside in a warm, dark area, such as your porch, garage or tool shed. Keep the bedding moist, especially when the bin temperature rises above 75 degrees F. Watch for insects, especially ants and flies, which can become problems during warm Kentucky summers. Move your worm bin indoors to an out-of-the-way location, such as your basement, once summer temperatures exceed 80 degrees F or when winter temperatures get below approximately 35 degrees F.

Step 6

Wait for at least two months before shifting the worm bedding to one side of your worm bin. Add fresh bedding to the empty side of the bin and give your worms several days to move out of the old bedding. Harvest the old bedding, which should resemble chunks of dirt, with a trowel.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic bin with cover
  • Drill with 1/4-inch bit
  • Newspaper and dead leaves
  • Water
  • Compost worms
  • Mild food scraps
  • Plain dirt/crushed eggshells
  • Trowel


  • University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension: Constructing a Worm Composting Bin (pdf)
  • "The Worm Book"; Loren Nancarrow & Janet Hogan Taylor; 1998
  • Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture: Worm Composting
Keywords: Kentucky worm composting, worm composting, composting in Kentucky

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.