How to Make a Composter with a Plastic Tub


Composting can be done with a variety of materials from free-standing piles to metal drums to plastic bins depending on how you want to compost. Plastic tubs can be used as a method of vermicomposting, or making compost with worms. This is also an easy way to create a self-sustainable system that requires little maintenance once it gets started; the process takes about one month to go through the initial stage to where it is a repeating cycle.

Step 1

Set up the two plastic tubs upside down. Drill drainage holes into the bottom of the tubs using the 1/4-inch drill bit. Keep the holes 1/2 inch from the sides of the base. Turn the tub right side up. Set the tubs aside.

Step 2

Set the lid for one tub on the table. Drill aeration holes into the lid using the 1/2-inch drill bit. Keep the holes 1/2 inch from the sides of the lid. Set the lid aside.

Step 3

Set the oven pan on the table; make sure the oven pan has a 1-inch lip around it. This will become the catch basin for liquid later. Put a tub from step 1 on the oven pan so that it covers most of the pan.

Step 4

Tear the newspaper into thin strips. Put the strips into the bottom of the tub. Put the straw and grass clippings into the bottom of the bin. Put 2-inches of topsoil into the tub on top of the other material. Moisten the entire base with water until everything is wet but not soaked. Allow the tub to sit overnight.

Step 5

Put the red worms into the tub. Spread them evenly over the entire base of the tub. Put the lid on the tub and allow the worms to settle in. Put a light on overhead to keep the worms from climbing out of the tub.

Step 6

Add organic material daily. Use kitchen scraps such as vegetable peelings, apple cores and coffee grounds. Add grass clippings, discarded plants (disease-free), pulled weeds that have not gone to seed and annual flowers that have passed blooming stage. This will add the nitrogen to the compost. Strive to have three times the dry material that you have for wet material. Also strive for having equal amounts of brown and green material.

Step 7

Fill the tub to just under the lip. Remove the lid. Set the second tub next to the first tub. Repeat step 4 with the second tub.

Step 8

Empty the contents of the first tub into the second bin; this may require two people to flip the bin. Make sure everything is out of the first bin. Drain the liquid from the oven tray into a bucket; this is liquid compost or "compost tea" which can be used as a spot spray on plants. Put the second tub onto the oven tray as you did the first tub.

Step 9

Put the light overhead to drive the worms down into the fresh material now on the bottom of the tub; this will take most of one day. Scoop out the compost layer on top leaving the fresh material exposed. Cover the tub with the lid. Repeat the entire process from step 6 onward. The process becomes a self-sustaining system at this point.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 plastic bins, 14 gallon
  • 24-by-12 inch oven pan
  • 1/4-inch drill bit
  • 1/2-inch drill bit
  • Drill
  • Newspaper
  • Straw
  • Grass clippings
  • Topsoil
  • 1 lb. red worms
  • Kitchen scraps
  • Garden waste


  • High Country Conservation: Find or Build Your Worm Bin
  • Composting With Worms
  • Penguin Group: Talking Dirt: How to Build Your Very Own Worm Box

Who Can Help

  • Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection: Guide to Home Composting
Keywords: composting with worms, composting in tubs, vermicomposting

About this Author

Jack S. Waverly is a Pennsylvania-based freelance writer who has written hundreds of articles relating to business, finance, travel, history and health. His current focus is on pets, gardens, personal finance and business management. Waverly has been writing online content professionally since 2007 for various providers and websites.