How to Make a Worm Composting Bin

This article will go over how to make a worm composting bin, tips on feeding your worms, pH levels, and harvesting your worm compost. Here are some basic worm bin maintenance instructions. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the size and pH levels of the compost.

There’s no need to use chemicals either!

Worm Composting Containers tote bin with compost

How to Make a Worm Composting Bin

A one bin system is the most common and inexpensive way to get started. Often people look to repurpose tote bins, recycling bins, or even old bathtubs. Because many single bin systems are made of upcycled and easily found materials, it is the more environmentally friendly way to get started. We recommend you pick a container that is wider than it is tall. For example, a tote bin is often easier to maintain than a trash can. Since these bins are not specifically made for worm composting, you will need to make some required. 

You can purchase vermicomposting systems if you would instead start with a ready-to-go system. Many ready-to-use worm composting systems come in the form of a tower or stacking containers. Tower systems are explicitly made for worm composting. They have features to eliminate any excess liquids and extra trays to add new bedding and compost. 

Feeding

Read on if you’re wondering how to feed worms in a composting bin. Worms are natural scavengers and will visit a pocket of food waste. You will want to start with 500 to 1000 worms, and feed them in small pockets around the bin. Start with 1/2 cup of food chopped up as fine as possible or blended. Then add paper to cover the area where you place the food.

The dry paper will absorb excess moisture as the food decomposes. Paper also prevents your bin from smelling or attracting pests. Maintaining your bin is all about maintaining moisture.

Moistening

A moist environment for the worms is essential for healthy thriving and a long-lasting bin. Initially, the bedding must be wet, but as the bin is populated by worms, it will eventually break down and lose its moisture. Shredded newspaper is ideal, as it is easily available and contains an excellent moisture retention capacity. However, you can use other bedding materials, such as leaves, shredded cardboard, or soil.

To begin with, moisten the bedding in a clean bucket or tub. It should feel like wrung-out sponge and release a few drops of water when squeezed. If the bedding dries out more quickly, add additional dry bedding until the right consistency is achieved.

pH

To determine the pH level of your worm composting bin, you must first understand what pH is. pH stands for power of hydrogen, a scale from 0 (acidic) to 14 (alkaline). A neutral pH is seven; substances that have a pH below seven are more reactive than those above. The pH of most materials is either zero or fourteen. This level should be monitored closely since it can cause severe burns to your skin.

In order to create the right pH level in your worm composting bin, you must first understand how worms work. They work best in neutral soils. Food waste can make the pH level too acidic. However, high nitrogen material can also create an alkaline environment. In this case, you can add calcium carbonate, wood chips, or crushed egg shells to neutralize the acidity. Remember, your worms will not work well if they do not have access to enough calcium carbonate.

Harvesting worm compost

There are many ways to use worm castings, including as a fertilizer for plants and flowers. You can use worm castings to fertilize flowerbeds, container plants, and hanging baskets. Worm castings are a natural organic fertilizer and can be applied to any surface area every couple of weeks. It is also great for your indoor plants, such as potted plants, since worms produce only waste material.

person hold vermicopost from vermicomposting

You can harvest worm castings by sifting the finished compost to remove the worm cocoons and worms.

Using worm compost tea

A paper coffee filter is another great option for fertilizer. Simply add 1/4 cup of worm castings to the filter and tie it. Add the filter to a gallon container of room temperature water and 2 tablespoons of blackstrap molasses. You will want to leave the container uncapped. Every 45 minutes, place the cap on the container and give it a hearty shake.

What is happening in the tea is the bacteria from the worm compost is consuming the molasses and making a stronger probiotic tea. Leaving the cap off let’s the product breath, and shaking it infuses the container with oxygen. It is also common to see people use a fish tank bubbler to add oxygen for bigger batches

It’s best to make small batches so that the tea doesn’t spoil. To avoid waste, try using as little water as possible. Use only enough to feed your plants.