How to Build a Red Wiggler Composter


Red wigglers, or red worms, are well suited to home composting. Unlike earthworms that prefer to burrow deep in the soil, red wigglers are surface dwellers that stay in just the top 6 inches of soil. This allows them to be easily kept in a small compost container in the home without taking up much space. Red wigglers feed on kitchen scraps, such as vegetable peelings, coffee grounds and other organic scraps, and require no expensive diet to produce castings which make up the rich compost in a worm bin.

Step 1

Drill ½ inch holes in the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket. Space the holes 2 inches apart around the edge of the bottom. Drill additional ½ inch holes in the lid of the bucket, spacing them in rows 2 inches apart.

Step 2

Tear newspaper into 1-inch wide strips. Moisten the shredded newspaper until it is as damp as a wrung out sponge. Fill the bucket ½ full of the newspaper strips.

Step 3

Add one or two handfuls of garden soil, not compost, to the worm bin. This provides the grit necessary for the worms to digest the food.

Step 4

Place one half pound of red worms in the bucket. Set the bucket on top of a second lid or a tray to catch any excess moisture that drips from the bottom. Put the lid with the holes in it on top the bucket.

Step 5

Feed the worms vegetable scraps from the kitchen. Bury the food under the newspaper, placing it in an area with no old food in it each time. Feed the worms approximately 2 to 3 pounds of scraps a week.

Step 6

Check the bedding material's moisture level weekly. Add additional newspaper strips if it is too moist or water it lightly if it is too dry to maintain the level of a wrung out sponge.

Step 7

Harvest the compost once all the bedding material is broken down and the contents resemble coffee grounds. Dump the bin onto a tarp and pick out the worms. Fill the bucket with fresh bedding material and place the worms inside. Use the compost in potted plants or in the garden.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never feed meat, dairy or greasy foods to the worms. This may make them ill and attracts pests. If the worms are dying check moisture levels first. If this is fine then remove all the uneaten food in the bin and start feeding fresh food.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Drill
  • Newspaper
  • Soil
  • Kitchen scraps
  • Red worms
  • Extra lid


  • Rutgers Cooperative Extension: Vermicomposting
Keywords: red wiggler compost, vermicomposting with red worms, building worm bins

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.