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:

20111025-204327.jpg

  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.

17 comments

  1. I started a bin about a month ago and when I checked up on the worms recently, they looked skinnier. Could it be due to the cold weather? The bin is inside, but the temperature has gotten colder. Thanks for any advice!!

    • Hi GM,

      Thanks for visiting and posting!

      My first guess might not be the cold if they’re indoors. Worms generally like a cool room temperature, about 70F/21C. Are the worms huddling together? Usually they’ll do that if they’re cold.

      Maybe see if they’re getting enough food. Apples are usually my go to food test. I’d throw in an apple and see if they take to it. They could also be dehydrated if the bin is particularly dry, worms are mostly water. Food waste is a more stable way to increase the moisture in your bin then adding water or wet paper material so the apple could help with this too or you could add other food waste.

      Good luck and let me know how it goes?

      • No they’re not huddling together, but you’re right, they’re probably dehydrated! The bin is a bit dry. I’ve thrown in some apple pieces. I’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks for your advice! đŸ™‚

  2. hi GM,name is niyi ,new to vermicomposting,,been looking for were to buy red wriggler/compost worms around the GTA to no avail, wondering if u can help me out to get started..thanks

  3. Hi
    Isaw yr Kijiji post
    Interested in making worm compost
    How do I pick up the worms
    I would also need advice since its my first time
    Thanks

  4. Hi,
    Great site, can I purchase some worms from you? I emailed from Kijiji but didn’t get a reply. Let me know.

    Thanks,

    Dan

  5. It is very nice that you sell some of your red worms at quite a reasonable price. The market price of the worms scarce off many starters. I am thinking of worm composting outdoor from April to Nov each year. I just don’t know what to do with the red worms after Nov. Any thoughts ? I usually go out of the country during Winter.
    Roger

    • Hi Roger,

      Sorry for the slow reply, hope I’m not too late with my reply.

      My worms have lasted 2 months without care indoors, I haven’t needed to test it longer but I’d imagine they could even go 3-4 months since I put in food in big chunks and they work on it slowly. But not sure I’d be comfortable saying leave without worry.

      And since your bin is outdoors they may die over the winter. Can you move it into a garage? Or somewhere less cold? Feed it and then leave it? I’m told when it’s cold worms are less active and therefore need less food. If you give it a try please let me know how it goes!

      Thanks for reading and happy composting!

  6. Thanks for the info on vermicomposting. I also saw your posting on Kijiji but I wasn’t sure if I was totally legit, not that you can fake worms! LOL.

    Anyways, I would like to start my own worm compost and if you have some worms available, I’d be interested. I think my email should show in your WordPress comments, if not please let me know.

    Cheers.

  7. Hi we have been feeding our worms well ove the past couple of weeks and we have some new buggish additions to our bin. They are white and look kinda like larvae. Is this a bad thing? They are everywhere (on the underside of the lid) and have even escaped out of the bin. They turn brown and look almost like mouse droppings.
    Thanks!

  8. Re wondering if a taller bin would work. A few years ago, I got food grade plastic buckets (eg nursing homes buy margarine in them) and put some holes in the bottom (and up near the top) and did a system very similar to yours. I forget, I went 3 or 4 buckets high then started a new “tower”. I was growing wheatgrass and microgreens and layered the food scraps with the leftover mat of roots. I used worms from an outdoor composter. Worked fine. However, still messy!

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