DIY Network

How to Assemble a Worm Composter

Worm composting transforms leftover food scraps into valuable plant food. And it can be done year round indoors.

More in Outdoors

add bedding material and food waste to compost
  • Time

    2 hours

  • Price Range

    $50 - $100

  • Difficulty

    Easy

Highlights:

Step 1: Order the Worms

You can order worms for the compost bin from any number of online garden stores. The kit we are building can hold 1,000 red wiggler worms. One pound of worms can consume a half-pound of food scraps each day. That’s why you get so much compost from so few worms.

Step 2: Assemble the Base

Attach the water collection tray to the leg base using the supplied screws. Next, insert the water collection liner, making sure to line up the drainage holes. Insert the drain valve through the tray and liner and attach it with the plastic washer.

kit can hold 1000 red wiggler worms

Step 3: Prepare the Bedding

Soak the included coir brick in one gallon of water. Add a handful of the included vermiculite. Also add a small amount of vermiculite to the water collection liner. Spread the wet coir bedding material in the bottom tray. In the second tray, use damp shredded newspaper for the bedding.

Step 4: Assemble the Compost Bin

Put all of the worms in the bottom tray and place the tray in the base. Stack the second tray on top of the first. Finally, the lid goes on top to keep the worms in and the dry air out. As the worms compost all of the food in the first tray, they will move up to the second tray. Additional trays will become necessary as the worms multiply.

worm trays stack one on top of the other

Step 5: Feed the Worms

Feed the worms a mixture of different food scraps. Almost anything works except for meat, dairy and exceptionally fatty foods. Popular items include fruit and vegetable scraps, moldy bread, pizza crusts, and table leftovers. Do not overfeed the worms. If food lasts longer than one week, it is likely too much. After about a week or two, add food to the second tray.

add bedding material and food waste to compost

Step 6: Maintain Proper Moisture

For worm composting to work its best, the bedding must be kept moist but not wet. If the bed gets too dry the worms could die, and if it gets too wet the worms can drown. Before adding additional bedding, soak it in water and wring it out. Also, keep the bin away from direct sunlight.

provide thick moist bed for worms to compost

Step 7: Harvest the Compost

Once the worms have moved out of the bottom tray you will be left with pure compost, known as worm castings. Remove the bottom tray and sort through the compost to pick out any stray worms. Use the compost when planting vegetables and flowers, or as a top-dress fertilizer on existing plants. Scratch the compost into the soil.

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