Getting Started

You don’t need special tools or fancy equipment to start a worm bin.

Main things to consider:
  • Good Drainage
  • Air Circulation
  • Minimal Light Exposure
Here’s my current bin:


  1. Drill holes on the side of a 37.9L Rubbermaid Roughneck Tote (bottom/smaller bin). Holes should be near the top of the bin for air circulation.
  2. Drill holes on the bottom for drainage and on the side for circulation of a 53L Rubbermaid Roughneck Tote (top/larger bin).
  3. Nest larger bin in the smaller bin.
  4. Place a layer of shredded newspaper or cardboard at the bottom of the larger bin.
  5. Add worms (red wiggler worms are ideal, unfortunately earthworms won’t work as they like to live deep in the soil and can’t live in shallow containers), ideally with some compost from a previous worm bin.
  6. Add some food for the worms, I like a couple of apples to start a compost.
  7. Add newspaper or cardboard on top to cover food scraps and worms.
  8. Drill holes on top of the lid and place on top of bin.
Things to note:
  • Too many holes are generally better than too few.
  • Do not bring in outside waste, soil, leaves, etc. if you plan on keeping your bin indoors.
  • Keep worms together rather than spread them thin. The worms will gradually spread out as your bin grows.
  • Do not over crowd your bin with food scraps or worms.
  • Check the bin every couple of days but do not fuss with it too much.
Future Enhancements:

This bin setup has served me well enough for the past 4 years but there are some things I’d like to change if I were to do it over.

  • More space between the bins to hold more liquid and allow for a spout
    Removing the liquid is pretty messy with my current bin, the top bin is heavy and has holes at the bottom so it’s hard to remove and put down anywhere without leaving a wet mess. I usually do it outside and place the top bin on a planter but I only do it 1-2 times a year because it’s messy. A spout would make it easier and allow me to use the liquid more readily as fertilizer. It would also allow me to add more liquid without worry, like dumping tea leaves or coffee grounds with remaining liquid.
  • Taller and less wide container
    This is an idea I’ve been considering though I’ve never tried it. I think a taller bin might be easier to separate the compost. Since red wiggler worms like to stay near the surface, as the compost fills the worms would move up leaving just compost below. Then I could just remove the top third or so until I stop seeing worms and remove the rest as compost, add more bedding and add back the worms. Plus a taller, less wide bin would be easier to keep in small spaces.
If you have any bin suggestions/experiences I’d love to hear them.


  1. hi alice, i did the reverse where the smaller bin was actually the inside bin so that the spacing between the two bins is greater. i found my set up similar to someone who did it online. i didn’t drill any holes in the bottom one (larger) then i put in another bin with holes (large) and finally i put in the smaller bin (holes). since i just got some worms from you, i started with the solid large bin with the holed large bin. i figure once that gets going, i’ll add the smaller holed bin so they can crawl up when there is more compost available.. which is probably several weeks…

  2. Hi Alice, you have given me an idea, to convert the green bins that the city provides into a worm bins. It is tall and thin, and it has wheels to move it around, when it comes time to harvest the castings. Plus, they are free. My worms are very busy and doing well. I have found many eggs in the mix. I am feeding them the pulp from the juicer, and I am grinding the egg shells with a mortar and pestle. Much easier for the worms to eat. They are very interesting when you take to time to learn about them.

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