How to Make Your Own Earthworm Compost Bins


Worm bins are fun, educational and one of the quickest ways to create high quality compost. Worm bins can be kept in even the smallest of apartments, slipping easily under your sink or other small area. You can make your own earthworm compost bins in a very short time and for a very small price.

Step 1

Select plastic storage bins to use for your worm compost bins. They should be opaque due to the worms' sensitivity to light. They should not be deeper than they are wide. The more area inside the bins the more space you will have to bury compost. However, if the bins are too deep, the worms may have trouble moving through the litter of the bins.

Step 2

Use a 1/16-inch drill bit to drill holes in the sides of your bins for ventilation. You do not want the holes to be too big--small holes will keep the bug traffic to a minimum. Drill one to two rows of holes spaced about an inch apart around all four sides of the bin, a couple of inches down from the top of the bin. Use a 1/4 inch drill bit to drill holes in the bottom of your bins if you would like to have drainage. If you do drill holes in the bottom, you will need to have trays underneath your bins to catch the "tea" that will drain out. This watery by-product of composting can be used to fertilize your houseplants.

Step 3

Prepare the litter for your worm bins. Shredded newspaper, wood chips, straw, fall leaves and cut grass can all be used as litter in your worm bins. In a bucket, mix your litter with a handful of dirt or sand and enough water to give the litter the feel of a damp mop. Put this litter into the plastic bins.

Step 4

Add your worms to their new home. Start with one pound of red worms per bin. If you are making more kitchen waste than your initial amount of worms can handle, you will know by the smell. Your worm bins should not have an odor once the compost is buried. If they do, you do not have enough worms. You can either buy more, or wait--adding less waste--until your worms have reproduced to a number that can easily compost the amount of waste your household creates.

Step 5

Bury your kitchen waste in your worm bins. You can either bury it as you produce it, or save it in a covered bucket to add it once a week. If you do save it in a bucket before adding it to your worm bin, you can add a handful of wood chips to the bucket to help neutralize the odor. Rotate where you bury your waste every time you put it in the bins..

Tips and Warnings

  • Never add pet waste to your compost bin. Pet waste often carries bacteria that can survive the composting process.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic bins
  • Drill
  • 1/4- and 1/16-inch drill bits
  • Bucket
  • Litter (grass, newspaper, leaves, straw, or wood chips)
  • Dirt or sand
  • Red worms
  • Kitchen waste


  • Cheap and Easy Worm Bin!
  • Build Your Own Worm Bin
  • How to Build a Worm Bin
Keywords: worm compost bin, build your own compost bin, composting with worms

About this Author

Em Connell McCarty has been writing for 27 years. She studied writing at the University of Iowa and at Hollins University in Virginia. She writes fiction, creative non-fiction and essays. McCarty's work has been published in Hip Mama magazine.