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Making an Indoor Worm Composting Bin

By: Everett S

In the video below we show you how to make a cheap and easy indoor worm compost bin that works better than any of those expensive “worm condo” type systems you see in gardening magazines. I tried store bought composters several times and, although some were better than others, I’ve yet to find a system that works better than this one. The best thing about making an indoor worm composting bin from plastic storage bins is that you can do it for under $10. Here’s how…

More Composting Resources
Composting Websites
Using Wooden Pallets to Make an Outdoor Compost Bin
How to Compost Guide

Category: The Transplants, Urban, Videos

Comments (26)

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  1. Anna says:

    Nice looking worm bin! We might add the third bin to ours at some point — so far, our bin seems to get ready to harvest around the same time we’re ready to move the worms outside for the summer, so we don’t need the extra bin.

    I’ve had good luck using leaves instead of newspaper as the brown matter, since we don’t subscribe to the newspaper.

  2. Leigh says:

    “Indoor” is really appealing these days, especially when it’s too cold outside for both worms and humans! I would just need to find a place to put one. :)

  3. Yolanda says:

    Thank you! I am a little confused about how to manage the 2 bins. I see there are castings in the 2nd one down. When do you empty and which one and…. I am just confused. Please explain? When do you switch them?

  4. Mr. Simpleton says:

    Yolanda,

    The top two bins are for the worms and food and the bottom bin is for the compost tea / water drippings.

    I start putting food in the middle bin first. When it gets full enough, I give the whole system a rest for a couple of weeks and then start putting fresh food into the top bin.

    The worms smell the fresh food above and move up into the top bin in order to get at it. Within two weeks the middle bin is mostly empty of worms, but full of compost and worm castings.

    I then dump out the contents of the middle bin and use it. At that time I’ll also dump out the compost tea in the bottom bin and use that as well.

    Then I put what was the middle bin, which is now empty, on top so it becomes the top bin. The bottom bin always stays on the bottom because it’s the only one without holes.

    Make sense? Sorry I should have explained that better in the video.

    Most people only use two bins for this and catch the drippings in a lid that sits under them like a tray. I find that this is messy because the juice spills everywhere if it’s in a tray. That’s the only reason I have an extra bin – so it acts like a reservoir on the bottom to catch all of the liquid.

  5. Lisa says:

    I love this! This is the next natural step for us as well but we are going to wait until the warmer months to start with the worm composting!

  6. Kristin says:

    This is great! I am about to build one of these and have one question: how often do worms fall from a higher bin to a lower one? In other words, do they fall a lot from the top bin to the second right when you start (when the middle one is pretty empty) or from the middle bin to the bottom one right when you switch the top two bins? I am worried about losing a lot of worms (starvation?) this way. Is it worth putting a removable layer of screen/cloth around the bottom of the top bin after the worms have migrated up? Thanks!

  7. Mr. Simpleton says:

    Kristin worms have no trouble climbing back up. They don’t really “fall” through since the holes aren’t that big. They “crawl” or rather “slither” through the holes. But if they get down and need back up they just climb up the sides.

  8. Natalie says:

    Hi, I am really interested in composting indoors but I am concerned about the smell. Is there one? Would keeping it in my damp basement be a bad idea, It gets pretty cold in the winters, could the worms freeze if I kept them there?

  9. Mr. Simpleton says:

    Natalie,

    Composting indoors does not smell at all if you do it right, which isn’t very difficult either. Just make sure you mix in some carbon stuff with your nitrogen stuff, some dry stuff with your wet stuff. In other words, mix in straw, newspaper, etc…. so it’s not just ALL food.

    Although the smell isn’t anything to be concerned with (as it doesn’t smell) you may have issues with little fruit flies if you let it get too wet for too long. If this happens I usually take it outside for a few days and let it dry out.

  10. Hey that’s a great post!

    We’ve had a worm box in our office to recycle not just food waste but also paper. It’s been so successful we’re making a second one.

    For us a little challenge was to get rid of the little flies that were coming out of the box after a while. Now we throw any food waste in the freezer compartment of the office fridge for a few days and only then give it to the worms. This kills the fly eggs in the food and presto: no more fruit flies.

  11. Everett says:

    Tom, I always thought the fruit flies laid their eggs AFTER we put the food into the compost bucket. Are you saying we’re eating fruit fly eggs, or that the fruit flies lay eggs in the food at some point between our eating it and our putting it into the compost bin?

    Glad you’re having such a great success with vermiculture in your office!

  12. Tina says:

    Why are the food scraps placed on top of newspaper? I thought you are supposed to mix the food scraps into the worm/newspaper mix. Do the worms come up on top of the paper and eat the scraps?

  13. AdminAccount says:

    Hello Tina,

    I generally start out the bins this way because it helps all of the castings come out easier when it’s time to empty the bin. But you are correct; for the rest of the time I mix in the food with scraps of paper that are shredded.

    However I still do this in layers: 1 layer of food followed by 1 layer of shredded paper. This keeps the flies and other bugs to a minimum.

  14. Antonette says:

    I saw this video and thought this was genius!

    Originally, I was trying to make compost without worms. (This was maybe 3 1/2 weeks ago). I have two large plastic bins, much like the size of the bins in the video. I mixed in food scraps, old flowers (from bouquets that my awesome boyfriend get me every other week), dried leaves, shredded paper, wood chips, etc and some compost I bought at the garden store. Anyway, I live in a town home and want to plant some veggies for a balcony garden. I realized that this aforementioned method of composting will take forever if I want to plant before summer.

    So I bought some red worms that I expect to arrive next week. My question is: I want to convert this system into a worm bin. Would you recommend I use this mix with my worms? It seems like the food scraps/greens have completely rotted and mixed in with the dirt. But there are a still quite a lot of browns. (I should also mention that I did throw in some green pepper and scallions a while back.)

    Your advice would be greatly appreciated

  15. AdminAccount says:

    Hello Antonette,

    I would go ahead and use what you have, but it sounds like you might need to add some more dry material to the mix too. Straw, paper, ripped up cardboard…. Good luck!

  16. […] By the way, here’s what we have outside our door to put the compost in. When it’s full we take it back to the compost piles or pour it into the worm bins. […]

  17. […] floors in the bedroom, which was the only room in the house that didn’t have them. My worm bins are read to be harvested again. I put chickenwire around the compost piles to keep the dogs and […]

  18. Zenki says:

    Can I use the shredded papers from office instead of newspaper? Why are you not recommending African Nightcrawler for the worm bin? TIA

  19. Everett says:

    Zenki, yes you can use shredded paper from the office as long as it is standard paper and not “laser” paper, which I think has some sort of film on it. I’m not exactly sure how it works, but I can tell the difference between regular printer paper and the glossy stuff so I don’t use the glossy stuff in our printer.

    I don’t recommend using nightcrawlers because they like deep soil. You may see them on the surface after a rain, or under a rock at times, but often they tunnel down five feet or more into the soil. So a shallow compost bin would not be an ideal environment for a nightcralwer. The red wrigglers, however, tend to stay near the soil surface and so they have all the room they need in a compost bin. Their habit of coming to the surface also makes it easier to separate them from the composted material when the time comes.

  20. Zenki says:

    Thanks for the info. I don’t know how to differentiate the papers but the paper we are using is “SUB 20”.

  21. Everett says:

    Zenki if it says “laser” anywhere on the box or package you probably shouldn’t use it. I don’t know what SUB 20 is specifically but you can tell the difference between laser paper and plain paper. Plain is like the paper you grew up with. Laser is glossy. When in doubt, don’t use it.

  22. Zenki says:

    Thanks for all the info. The only problem right now is the type of worm I’m going to use. Here in our country, the Philippines, it’s very hard to find Red Wiggler. The most common type of worm here is the African Nightcrawler.

  23. Mark says:

    At my daughter’s encouragement, we assembled an indoor compost bin per your video and instructions. However, we have found that it has been getting maggots. What should we do about that?

  24. Everett says:

    You may have used too big of a drill bit. Also make sure you mix in equal amounts of dry stuff, like sawdust or shredded paper. If it gets wet in there bad stuff can happen like flies and whatnot. I’m sorry you’re having problems!

  25. lisa says:

    Great video! Just wondering if you think cat litter containers could be used as well?

  26. Everett says:

    Hello Lisa,

    I’m not sure they would be deep enough, but you could certainly try. Let us know how it goes!

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