Making a Homemade Worm Bin with Kids

A red wiggler worm. He’s smiling.

I have owned a worm bin for several years that I bought from Can-O-Worms.  I like my Can-O-Worms, but it was expensive.  I am honestly surprised at how great our homemade worm bins came out and I like them better! 

My red worms (Eisenia foetida)  have done a wonderful job of eating our garbage and we get lots of extra worms because they’re happy.  I  might have as many as 20,000 red worms in my bin.  My son decided that he wanted his own worm bin so I figured we might as well make more than one.  We invited our 4-H group over and all the kids made their own worm bins.

A homemade red wiggler, worm bin.

We used 10-gallon sized Rubbermaid bins.  I like these because they have a handle at each end that keeps the bins from sitting too tightly together when they’re stacked on top of each other.  Dark colors are best because the worms need darkness.  Bins that let light through won’t work.  

Two finished homemade worm bins.

I printed out instructions from ehow.com.  I won’t go into all the details because you can click on the link to ehow.com and see them.  We did a few things differently though.  We used a drill with a 1/4  bit to make holes in the lid, upper sides and the bottom of the top bin.  The holes are small enough to allow air in and moisture out without letting worms escape.  We put the bin inside a separate bin that we didn’t drill any holes into.  This allows the liquid from the worms to drain into the lower bin and be contained.  That liquid is great stuff to put on plants and shouldn’t be wasted.  We placed the lid from the second bin underneath them.  If ants are a problem, water can be put into the lid and it will create a moat that the ants won’t be able to cross to get inside the bin.

The styrofoam blocks allow the top bin to sit on them. The liquid has already started to drain into the bottom bin.

We put a couple of styrofoam blocks in the bottom bin to keep some distance between the two bins.  There’s already a little bit of liquid from the worms accumulating in the bottom bin.

The top bin stacks into the bottom bin. The worms stay in the top bin. The liquid drains into the bottom bin.

The red wiggler worms stay in the top bin.  The liquid drains into the bottom bin.  Worms need moisture, but not too much.  They don’t like to be soaking wet all the time, although damp is good.  They do like to be covered with a damp newspaper or damp cardboard.  Think of it as their cozy blanket.  The damp newspaper keeps them from overheating in the summer and helps them stay warmer in the winter.  They love to be 70 degrees.  This isn’t always possible, (I’d love to be in 70 degrees all the time too), but there are ways to keep them happy.

Never let them be in the direct sun.  They should be in a shady spot that doesn’t overheat them.  They shouldn’t be left out in the rain either or left to freeze to death.  We had many nights of 20 degree weather last year and I never moved my worm bin.  However, they had lots of castings and garbage/food that provided warmth and they were covered in several layers of newspaper.  The fact that we’re in Florida helps too.  A worm bin in a cold climate should probably be brought into a garage or wrapped with some insulation.

Entire books have been written on how to take care of red wiggler worms.  A great one is Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof.

There was nothing difficult about making this bin.  The hardest part was having to go into Wal-Mart to get the supplies.

The inside of the worm bin.

We purchased some coconut coir (fiber) from the garden department and let it sit in a 5-gallon bucket of water for a couple of hours.  This softened it up so we could shred it to pieces.  The kids were great at this.  (I did the soaking before everybody arrived).  This is the best bedding for the worms to start their new home in.  I took some of the red wigglers out of my established worm bin.  I threw in some of their worm castings as well.  We dampened some newspaper and cardboard to cover them up with.  Then we put the lid on.

A cozy blanket of damp newspaper and cardboard.

We didn’t add food right away.  On the second day we gave them some apple.  I threw in some grit for them as well.  They need it for digestion.  Dirt will serve as grit for them.

Vermicompost.

Grayson's very own red wiggler bin full of pet worms.

Nothing makes my kids happier than digging in the dirt and finding worms … it keeps me young too.

Come grow with us!

4 Responses to “Making a Homemade Worm Bin with Kids”

  1. I have had many hours enjoying the reading on your great blog.
    I have not added any thoughts before but now curiosity is scratching at my brain.
    In the post about the Dombeya you mentioned one of my local garden centers just East of 75 (Riverland)
    In that post you mentioned a great gentleman by the name of Mayor.
    That seems too coincedental.
    I work at a garden center in Estero.
    One of my fave customers was a great guy named Mayor.
    If you talk to him any time soon ask him if he remembers a tall guy with blue eyes named Bobby from an Estero Garden center.
    BTW
    I soooooo love your blog and I just acquired a Turmeric Ginger from a friend at the Edison home.
    Inspired by your post on this fantastic spice. :O)

    • Thank you for following my blog and thank you for your wonderful compliment!

      I just purchased a Christmas Loquat tree from Mayer and asked him if he remembered you. Both Mayer and Ron said they knew you and said you are quite the plant guru. They asked me to forward a “hello” to you as well.

  2. Rohini bobba Says:

    Hi there, I have recently come across your blog and have been thoroughly enjoying your posts. We moved to north port last year and I have been thinking about starting vermiculture. I am just worried about the heat and humidity during the summers here. I was wondering if you could give me some info like how do you take care of the worms during summer and what kind of waste do you feed them. Your response will be greatly appreciated.

  3. Thanks for sharing. I just finished harvesting a couple of bins after the excess liquid spilled onto the floor. Yuck. I have almost the identical system but stack a third bin on top allowing worms to migrate from the lower bin to the top through the drain holes over time.

    I found your blog while trying to find a way to drain the liquid without moving the bin. I need to find a way to plumb a drain.

    How do you deal with the liquid and do you have drains?

    Thanks

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