Vermicomposting 101

Reduce household waste and create plant food with composting worms. Learn how with basic information about worm composting for home gardeners.

Worms in Compost

Worms in Compost

Vermicomposting is the process of using worms to convert kitchen and garden waste into a rich soil amendment. With the help of some composting worms, you can transform your vegetable waste into fantastic food for your plants. Vermicomposting is a great way to reduce the amount of waste sent to a landfill (as a country, we in the USA send over 97% of our food waste to the landfill), and the end product can offset or eliminate the amount of potting soil you buy for your garden. 

Worm Composting vs. Traditional Composting 

Worm composting is like traditional composting in that you need the same four ingredients: green materials that are high in nitrogen (food scraps and green plant material), brown materials that are high in carbon (newspaper, shredded paper, fall leaves, straw), water and air. However, these two processes do differ in a few key ways.  

First, the compost worms actually eat the contents of the bin, creating a more finely grained finished product. Smaller particles make vermicompost more suitable for starting small seeds than traditional compost, which tends to be more coarse and chunky.  

Second, there’s no need to “turn” (add air) the compost yourself – the worms do that for you when they tunnel through the bin. By turning the compost, the worms are helping everything decay at a more even rate. Turning by tunneling also prevents decomposing bacteria from heating up the bin and creating a fire risk. 

Third, while traditional composting can be accomplished in a simple pile outdoors, vermicomposting is much more efficient when done in a contained system. A closed bin is essential to keep your worms from escaping. 

Who Should Try Vermicomposting 

This method of composting is especially useful for apartment dwellers who want to recycle their kitchen scraps but don’t have the space to do traditional composting. Some vermicomposters keep a small worm farm under the kitchen sink, in the garage or out on the porch. If done properly, your worm bin won’t have a foul smell or harbor undesirable insects. 

Many teachers love worm composting because it’s a fun way to teach important concepts, like food webs, decomposers, annelid anatomy and recycling. Students love vermicomposting because they can get their hands dirty in the classroom. A small worm bin can be stored in the classroom, or a larger one can be built outside for the school to compost cafeteria waste. 

Easy Composting 03:58

How to build a compost bin and make your own compost and compost tea.

Next Up

Compost Worms

Learn more about your wiggling workers, including which worms are best for composting and what scraps make the best worm food.

The Benefits of Composting

Discover the many reasons that compost is good for you and your garden.

Garden Compost Bins

Learn about the many options for wood or plastic compost bins that are easy to assemble and use in your garden.

Garden Compost Barrels

Get advice for choosing and using a compost barrel for your garden.

How to Add Manure to Compost

Discover why manure makes a good addition to your compost and how to select the right manure for the job.

How Choose Worm Bins For Garden Composting

For successful vermicomposting, you need a good worm bin. Find tips on how to choose the worm bin that will for your garden.

Types of Compost

When it comes to composting, there are many ways to make and use these natural fertilizers.

Compost Bin Basics

Before you buy or build a compost bin, understand all the options in composters to make an informed decision.

Ericaceous (Acid-Loving) Compost

Learn how to make special compost that is suited to acid-loving, low pH plants, such as azaleas and blueberries.

Composting 101

Learn the basics about composting and how this DIY soil amendment can benefit your garden.

Get Social With Us

We love to DIY. You love to DIY. Let's get together.

Consult Our A-Z Guide

Everything You Need to Know

Browse a full list of topics found on the site, from accessories to mudrooms to wreaths.  

How-To Advice and Videos

Get video instructions about kitchens, bathrooms, remodeling, flooring, painting and more.

Watch DIY Downloads Now

Watch DIY Network LIVE

Don't miss your favorite shows in real time online.