Thursday, April 25, 2013

Making a Worm Composter that Works! (& Cheaper than Buying Online)

I don't know about you but forking out over a $100.00 for a worm composter seemed like too much money to me.  I did some research, watched a few videos, read a few blogs, bought & read a book and  looked at a  few worm compost houses for sale that ranged from $99.00 to $160.00 plus shipping. Those are some pretty expense worm condos!! Yikes - Mine cost me about $33.00 to make and about 2 hours including me stopping at the hardware store getting the materials.

Here is what I spent making my worm condo and the list of materials you'll need to make one:

3 Rubber Maid Bins with Lids  (don't buy the cheap plastic bins, they will crack.)  Worms like darkness so don't buy the opaque or clear bins - Buy the dark blue, black or green bins. 

Cost of Bins/Lids about $22.00 - I bought mine at Home Depot.

1 - 4" Round Soffit Vent

4 - 2" Round Soffit Vent

These can be found online at Home Depot or check your local hardware/roofing/contractor supply stores.  (All 5 of them cost me about $9.00)

1- water dispenser faucet - You can find these at water softening supply stores, Grangers and online. (I went to the Salvation Army Store and found one.  It only cost me $2.00)

Silicone Caulk - I had a tube already but figure about $3.00

1 pair panty hose or fine mesh material (I used pair of panty hose - I thought nylon will last longer.)

2 plastic cottage cheese containers - cleaned out of course.  Free

Tools Needed:

Drill with 1/4" drill bit
and a *tiny drill bit

1" Drill Bit (Check the size you need once you get your water dispenser faucet.)

Razor Knife
Magic Marker or Pencil
Caulk gun
rubber gloves

(*I don't have a size but it is very small for air holes.  You do not want worms to be able to get through them.  It was the smallest one in my set - I think it's about 1/16th drill bit.)

Once you have your materials, you will be amazed at how easy this is to make. 

Let's get started:

1. We will refer to this as BIN #1 - Measure the water dispenser end after you remove the gasket and screw ring.  Just hold the drill bit up to it to determine the size hole you will need.  NOTE: It should be a 1" but it is always better to measure and be safe than sorry!

2. Take Bin #1 and set it onto one of the bin lids.  Measure the placement of the faucet as close to the bottom of the bin as you can making sure it is not on the curve.  It can be up a 1/2" or so from the bottom.  Drill the hole, insert the faucet, put the gasket on and screw the nut tightly against the inside of the bin. The faucet/drain is now installed.

The purpose of the faucet is to drain the "worm tea" as it settles into the bottom bin.  It is easier than having to take the bins apart and drain the water so the worms don't drown and the system does not stink! 


3. Take BIN #2 - Start by drilling tiny water drainage holes (about 1/16th hole size) in the bottom of only 1 of the bins.  I drilled about 25 tiny drainage holes total in the bottom of the bin spaced about an inch (1" inch) apart. Use a tiny drill, about 1/16th drill bit for these holes. 

NOTE: We will also be adding 2 of the 2" soffit vents into this bin on either side. 

4. On one of the remaining lids: Take the 4" soffit vent and center it onto one of the lids.  Mark it with a marker or pencil.  Carefully, using the razor knife, cut out the circle along the inside of your template.  Take a piece of nylon and stretch it over the bottom of the 4" vent  - wrap the panty hose over the vent and snap the vent into the hole with the bulk of the panty hose outward. Trim off the excess panty hose from around the top of the vent. This photograph is showing the bottom of the vent.  The purpose of the nylon is it will prevent worms escaping and it allows for air to circulate so the worms can get oxygen breathe. 

This is the top view after the excess nylon was trimmed.  

5. Now we take Bins #2 that we already drilled the 1/16th holes into the bottom of and add 1 of the 2" smaller round soffit vents on each side of the bin about 1/2 way up the middle of the long side of the bin.  Remember to do the same thing with the nylon as you did with the lid vent.  You will need to measure, mark, cut out with razor knife, add nylon around vent, cut nylon after snapping into place. 
6. Do this same thing to the remaining Bin #3.  Add 2 side vents with nylon cover and in this bin, use the drill and put 1/4" holes into the bottom of the bin. 
The larger, 1/4" holes in the bottom of this bin are for the worms to "escape" into the new bin after the second bin is full of casings and compost. These holes are larger.  These holes are for the worms to migrate up into this bin.  The other bin, Bin #2 had the small holes for water drainage. 
**  Silicone Caulk Around the Vents and let dry before placing bins inside each other.  Read your caulks directions to see the time frame. 
7.  Place empty cottage cheese containers (or similar size containers) upside down in Bin #1.  Set on top of one of the normal lids.  (Not the one with the 4" Vent!)

8.  Place Bin #2 into Bin #1.  Add lid with vent on top.

9.  Set Bin #3 with un-vented lid on top of Bin #1 & 2 - You are now ready to install your worm bedding in preparation for your Red Wiggler Compost Worms into Bin #2.  As the garbage you feed your red wigglers is converted over to worm castings and compost, it will fill the bin up and you will need to entice them to move into their new home, Bin #3 through the 1/4" holes you put in the bottom of bin #3.  You simply add the bedding (shredded, moistened newspaper shred, coir, and/or peat mixed with a little bit of sand and begin feeding in the new worm condo dirt - Bin #3.  The worms will smell the food and move up into their new home.  (It's really cool watching them break down the food in no-time!  I will post more on raising and caring for Red Wigglers shortly.)

I hope these directions are written so you can easily make a worm composter for yourself.  I will be posting another blog and a video on preparing the bedding and adding red worms shortly!  I hope you found this useful.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.  Be sure to comment, subscribe to my blog and YouTube Channel - visit me on YouTube - Thanks for Stopping By!


  1. So cool! I can't wait to try this! Thanks so much for the money saving idea and complete instructions!