DIY Basics- Simple worm bins

Ready to start up your own backyard worm bin system but have no experience?

No two worm experts approach things exactly alike, which means the worms are patient with us as we try to get our bins started. Watch below, come back to this page,  read our review below, and visit our Shop .

The video above is excellent, and the author is very experienced in vermicomposting. Here are a few more tips that we have found useful over the last fifteen years of our own experimentation :

  • The plastic bin in the video provides 2 square feet of surface area for worms. This means the bin can handle up to 6 pounds of food scraps each week, no more. It is big enough to handle the waste for a one person household.
  • Let the following guide you: make sure you have 2 square feet of bin surface area per person in the household.
  • Also keep in mind: The amount of square feet you have in your bin dictates how much food you can give the worms each week. Multiply your square footage by 3 to get this number (ex: a bin with 2 square feet of surface area can handle up to 6 pounds of food scraps each week: 2×3=6).
  • A bin that is 2 square feet in surface area should be started with 1 pound of worms (that is 1,000 to 1,500 worms). To determine how many pounds you need when you start a worm bin, divide the square feet in half (ex: 2 square feet divided by 2= 1 pound of worms).
  • The bedding should be damp enough that a couple of drops of water come out of it when squeezed in your hand.
  • An alternative to loading the bedding and scraps and waiting two weeks is this: Load the bin with a four inch layer of damp bedding, add about a shovel full of a damp potting soil, add the worms. Then, add a two inch layer of food scraps, and a two inch layer of bedding. No need to wait, just feed the bin weekly after this.
  • Each time you feed the worms (not more than 1-2 times per week), scrape  the top two inches of bedding to one side, add no more than a 3-4 inch layer of food scraps, replace the bedding you moved, then add more bedding.
  • Start by feeding your worms a little less food than the maximum the bin can handle. For example, if the bin can handle 6 pounds of food scraps per week, start by giving it three pounds per week for the first month. During this time, your worm population will increase. Within two months, the worm population may double (thus it can handle more food each week).
  • We have found an ideal bedding (we call it “Compost Mix”) to consist of: rice hulls (available at a farm supply store), shredded/kinked paper, and a little bit of a potting soil. The soil is a “biofilter” (it suppresses odor that draws fruit flies). Store it dry, with a lid, so that you can add it to your worm bin every time you feed the worms.
  • When food scraps are well-covered, they will not draw flies.

Our own video coming soon!


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