Start a Worm Bin (part 3)

In the third part of our series, we actually start building a bin!

Here’s a materials list of items you will need.

  • 2 “Rubbermaid” type containers.  18 gallons is about the perfect size.  Larger or smaller work well also.
  • A bunch of newspapers
  • 2 — 2×4, cut to fit into one of the containers
  • 1 pound of worms, obviously, (red wigglers are the best for this) do a quick search on the Internet for someone that sells them near you.  They run about $20-$25 for the pound and that’s all you will ever need to buy.
  • About 1 pound of food scraps
  • 1 drill
  • 1 bucket of water


Step 1- Drill some drainage holes through one of the bins (20 should be good).  Try to drill the holes about the same size as the larger worms.  This will allow excess water to drain down into the bottom (drainage) bin as well as create air holes for air to get into the bin.


Step 2- Cut your 2×4 to fit inside of the lower bin.  Now put the first bin (the one with the holes) inside of this bin creating a “nested” worm bin.  This bin is a drainage bin for catching any excess liquid from the main bin.    If there is liquid in this bin, just pour it on your plants…it’s called “worm tea” and makes for excellent fertilizer.  Don’t worry about over fertilizing your plants with this either.  Worm castings are very gentle on plant roots.

wood supports

Step 3- Line the bottom of your bin with whole newspapers, paper bags, cardboard or any other natural material such as burlap, hemp, etc to create a temporary barrier to keep the worms from going through the drainage holes.  I say temporary because eventually all the bedding and linings will be eaten by the worms.

lined bin

Step 4- Shred up a bunch on newspaper about an inch or so wide.  Dunk it I the bucket of water, ring it out and throw it in the bin.  Fluff up the newspaper. This is the bedding for the worms.  You’ll want about 4-6 inches of bedding in the bin.

wet newspaper

Step 5- Now place your worms on top of the bedding.

worms on top of newspaper

Step 6- Now place your food scraps on top of the worms.

food scraps

Step 7- Shred some newspaper again, but this time don’t wet it.  This is the covering for the bin.  Shred up enough to fill the bin to the top.

shredded newspaper

That’s it!  Your bin is done.  Congratulations!
Some Helpful Tips:

  1. Remember, go easy on the food at first.  It’s very easy to overfeed the worms and although it won’t cause them any harm, the bin my start to smell or attract fruit flies.  Check on the worms every 4-5 days to make sure they are doing ok and the food is being eaten (start adding more food).  Don’t be afraid to continue to throw your scraps away for awhile, or you can freeze them in a container and thaw them out for later.  In time your bin will be able to eat more as the population gets larger.
  2. When the “covering layer” newspaper gets damp, just turn the damp paper up to the top of the bin and the dry paper down to bottom of the bin.  This will allow it to dry out.
  3. If the bedding and covering layer still seems too wet, you can also open the lid or take it off for awhile to allow it to dry out.  I actually rarely cover my bins completely in the garage.  Sometimes the opposite happens and my bin will be too dry.  To combat this, I’ll just put the cover on tightly and wait a couple of days.  The moisture will build back up inside.
  4. As the bedding gets eaten, I like to gently “turn” the bin contents over to aerate it.
  5. To feed the worms, simply lift up the covering layer and place the scraps on top.  Re-cover with the layer of newspapers.  Alternatively, I prefer to dig down a bit into the bedding and place the scrape into a “hole” I create.  This helps to get the food to the worms a bit faster.
  6. You should rarely, if ever, have to add water to moisten the bin.  But if the bin is a bit dry, feel free to throw some in.  The perfect consistency should be thoroughly damp, not dry or soaking.
  7. Pickup some rubber dishwashing gloves to make dealing with the worms a cleaner process.

Click here for the exciting conclusion of the worm bin series…the harvest!

Author Information -  During his spare time Eric writes for and maintains For his day job he works for an electronics company in San Diego, CA. Eric has been a vegetarian for about 10 years and believes that going 'green' and reducing meat consumption go hand-in-hand.

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Comment by HerbalifeNo Gravatar
2010-02-19 21:12:59

Interesting indeed. I came across another article where they make the bin inside the soil. Any reasoning for that? Is this a better way? Thanks. Cheers

Comment by EricNo Gravatar
2010-02-22 07:36:25

Hmm. That’s interesting, so do they still use worms, or is it more yard waste and such In a pile?

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