How to Make Worm Compost

Overview

Worm composting or vermiculture is the method of using red worms exclusively to break down compostable materials all year long. The bin can be stored in your home, basement, garage or out of doors as long as the temperature is maintained at 55 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooler temperatures will cause the worms to become sluggish and a temperature over 84 degrees Fahrenheit will be fatal. Even a school child can learn how to make worm compost and that can be an excellent project for a science fair. A pound of worms will eat the bacteria from the produce that you place into the bin. They produce castings or manure which is a rich soil nutrient for your garden and flower beds.

Step 1

Find a plastic storage container that is dark in color. The container must have a cover.

Step 2

Drill 20 to 30 holes, 1/4 inch in size, in the bottom of your container for drainage. Drill at least 30 holes of the same size in the top cover of the bucket. Change the drill bit and drill a series of 1/16-inch holes, 1 to 1 1/2 inches apart horizontally and 3 to 4 inches apart vertically, around the bucket from bottom to the top.

Step 3

Tear two to three newspapers into 1-inch strips. Discard pages with colored ink on them. You can add computer print-out paper and newsprint along with corrugated cardboard to the bedding. Wet down the paper until it is thoroughly dampened but not soaking wet. Squeeze any excess water out of the paper.

Step 4

Separate any clumped paper strips and mound the bedding into the bottom of the bin. Toss in a handful of garden dirt. The worms need this grit to process their food.

Step 5

Place the 1 lb. of worms down into one corner of the bin. Add food to the top of the bedding. The worms will search it out to feed. The worms will produce excrement or castings.

Step 6

Open the cover and expose the bin to light when you are ready to remove the worm compost. The castings can be removed from the compost bin once every three months. Use your hands to dig into the compost bin, to protect the worms. The worms will burrow away from the light and you will be able to hand remove the castings.

Step 7

Remind your children to keep the cover on the composting bin, to keep the worms contained and safe. Watch for a large population of dying worms or odor which is a warning signal that the bedding is too wet or the worms are not getting enough oxygen. Replace wet bedding immediately. Change bedding when the compost is removed quarterly.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not over water or overheat the worms or they will die. Worms must have sufficient oxygen to thrive. High salt or acidic food waste can kill the worm population.

Things You'll Need

  • Heavy duty, solid color plastic bucket, 8 to 10 gallon size
  • Drill with 1/4 inch and 1/16 inch bits
  • Newsprint or paper strips
  • 1 lb. red worms
  • 1/2 lb. food waste per day

References

  • Washington State University: Easy worm bin plans

Who Can Help

  • University of Missouri Extension: Compost bins to build yourself
  • Worm Man's Worm Farm: Worm bin plans
Keywords: worm compost, composting bin, vermiculture

About this Author

Suzie Faloon is a freelance writer who has written ad copy and online content for Demand Studios and Associated Content. As a professional crafter and floral designer, Faloon owned a florist business for nearly 25 years. She completed the Institute of Chilldren's Literature course in 1988.