How to Make an Earthworm Bin


Vermicompost is a valuable composting material, useful for adding nutrients and improving soil for garden and house plants. Use worms to help convert your kitchen scraps into compost--1 lb. of earthworms can consume ½ lb. of kitchen scraps per day, according to Texas A&M University extension. An earthworm bin is a quick and easy way to amend your soil and help lessen the amount of waste headed to landfills.

Step 1

Obtain earthworms from a bait store, or contact your county extension office to locate a local supplier. You can gather earthworms yourself by laying a piece of wet cardboard outside on your lawn or garden overnight. Lift up the cardboard the next day, and collect the worms.

Step 2

Drill drainage holes in the bottom of each bin using the ½-inch drill bit. About six ½-inch holes, evenly spaced, should suffice, depending on the size of your container.

Step 3

Drill at least 10 ¼-inch holes along the sides of each container for aeration.

Step 4

Shred the newspaper into 1-inch or smaller strips, and place into one of the bins to a depth of 12 inches. About 2 lb. of paper is needed for a 4.5-gallon plastic bin. Washington State University extension gets results with 3 to 4 inches of moist newspaper, along with old leaves and a handful of dirt to aid in worm digestion. Save the second bin for your next batch of compost.

Step 5

Moisten the paper until it is moist but not soggy. Squeeze out excess water if necessary.

Step 6

Add the earthworms to the prepared bedding in the plastic bin.

Step 7

Cut a piece of cardboard to fit over the moist newspaper bedding, wet it and place it over the bedding to cover it. Put on the bin lid and snap it closed.

Step 8

Place the worm composting bin in a well-ventilated area. If you wish to save the “worm tea” that drains from the container to use as a liquid fertilizer, prop the bin up with blocks, empty cans or other items, and let the liquid collect onto the lid of the second plastic bin.

Step 9

Feed the worms with kitchen scraps as they accumulate, and remember: 1 lb. of worms can potentially consume ½ lb. of scraps per day. Bury the food scraps under a different section of the cardboard each time you add more to the bin.

Step 10

Place new bedding material and food scraps in the second plastic bin when the first one is full and no recognizable food scraps remain. Remove the lid from the first bin and place the second bin directly on top of it. The earthworms will migrate from one container to the other in search of food over the course of 1 to 2 months.

Step 11

Use the vermicompost in your garden once the worms migrate from one bin to the other.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not add items such as dairy products, fats or meats to your earthworm compost bin because it will attract unwanted critters.

Things You'll Need

  • Two 4½ gallon or larger plastic storage bins with lids
  • Electric drill
  • ½- and ¼-inch drill bits
  • Shredded (black and white print) newspaper
  • 1 lb. earthworms (brown nose worms or redworms)
  • Food scraps
  • Sheet of cardboard


  • Texas A&M University Extension: Composting With Worms
  • Washington State University: Cheap and Easy Worm Bin
Keywords: earthworm compost, earthworm compost bin, composting with earthworms

About this Author

Marie Roberts is a freelance writer based in north central Florida. She has a B.S. in horticultural sciences from the University of Florida. Roberts began writing in 2002 and is published in the "Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society."