Instructables
Picture of Stackable Worm Condos/bins
"The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out...."

Here I will show you how to build your own stackable worm bin. Why would you want to raise worms? Well lets us count the ways.

1) Reduce your waste. These little work horses (as if horses work as hard as these little guys do) eat just about anything: non-glossy paper, non-meat/dairy food products, cardboard. Although they don't really like citrus food, they'll get to it eventually.

2) Their worm poop (castings) is perhaps the best organic fertilizer available.

3) They work much faster than traditional composting methods in turning material into garden-ready amendments.

4) The juice is also a good liquid fertilizer (mixed 1 part juice to 10 parts water).

5) Extras make great food for chickens and pet fish.

6) You don't need to buy bait should you decide to go fishing.


I should also note that we are talking about red wrigglers (or as those trained in the arcane language arts would say Eisenia foetida). Other worms might work, but keep the nightcrawlers in the lawn and garden where they belong - they're happier there. Night crawlers are the Wild Ones of the worm world and like to be free and need room to move.
 
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Step 1: The old way

Picture of The old way
Traditionally worm bins have basically been a box with worms. Harvesting the castings usually entails dumping the bin and picking the worms out by hand. Piling the dirt up on a sunny day makes the worms retreat and you're suppose to scrape the castings off the top until you end up with a ball of worms. More than a couple of pounds of worms and this is a dirty, tedious chore and really most unnecessary.

This "box" system also makes protecting the worms from predators like my chickens and dogs pretty difficult. A fully loaded tote like my old one here, is nearly impossible to lid. The walls of the box bulge out making the lid best used as a tray to catch the juice. But then you've got about 80lbs of worms, castings, and scraps on your juice tray which makes harvesting it more difficult. And if you're not on top of it, the juice will keep the casting wet which will make it smell bad and create an unhealthy environment for your worms.

The advantages of stackable worm bins is that they eliminate all the above problems. A stack of smaller containers wont bulge so it can be lidded. It makes the collection of castings easier since once the worms have eaten everything on one level they will migrate up the system to where the food is, leaving the valuable casting behind. Likewise, it's much easier to to get to the juice when only needing to move a couple levels of the "condo" to access it all.

Currently on the market are a number of stackable worm bins all of which cost $50-$150. Now I'm not only a little lazy, but I'm also cheap. And so I was determined to find a way to build one for next to nothing. And that my dear friends is exactly what I have done.

Not only is it dirt cheap, but it can also be easily adapted for nearly any situation. You can build one just as easily for a family of 10 as you can for the individual.

SIRJAMES093 years ago
how big do the red worms get??

I'm used to night crawlers that I use for fishing....

I bought a Frabill worm containment system($30.00 plus commission for congress) & it has EVERYTHING I need for 12 DOZEN worms...I have yet to add the worms, so that is why I ask how big do the red worms get??
darnocpdx (author)  SIRJAMES093 years ago
not too big 2" long max. The picture on the first page is a good example. Consider that they are in a 5 gal bucket. I've never really measured one or really thought about it much. But definitely much smaller than the night crawlers.
SIRJAMES093 years ago
to get the biggest bang for your buck, newspaper is best. 1 sunday newspaper will last a long time for about $2.00; or you can put the word out with family & friends & collect their newspapers when they are done with them for free!

hishealer4 years ago
Don't the worms need some sort of grit for their digestion?  Sand or dirt...
jtillery4 years ago
Great idea! I'm wondering about winter and how low of temperatures the worms in such a system can tolerate. What has your experience been? Also, what do you notice in the way of odors from the stack-o-buckets?
darnocpdx (author)  jtillery4 years ago
Well, I haven't over wintered them in this system yet. However since the system is portable, I can move it where I please. Though my climate seldom gets below freezing, I do plan moving it into my detached and unheated garage for the winter. As for odors, it depends mostly on the composition of your worm feed. Odor is usually a symptom of too much moisture in the mix, so drying it out with dry amendments is usually your best bet. I typically try to add a mass of shredded newspaper to my scraps when I deposit them (but my feed is usually pretty wet--we drink alot of coffee in this house). And the odors are usually contained well until opened. Covering the food scape with dirt will help control the odor and any fruit flies. Right now ours is perched on a patio within 6 feet of our picnic table in the back yard and the odor isn't an issue. Though I can't honestly say one way or another if you were to try doing this inside a living space. But I don't see where using this system indoors would be any different than any other indoor system. You might consider making little "pillows"or satchels of charcoal (found in pet stores for aquarium water filtration) that you could put on the top of the pile but under the lid if indoor odor issues are a problem. Good luck and I hope this helps.
Rocksterr5 years ago
Just what I was looking for, thank you very much. I'm cheap and lazy too and I've got some old 5 gallon drywall mud buckets just laying around the place. Perfect solution to recycle the buckets and table scraps too.