Worm Condo Composter





Introduction: Worm Condo Composter

Since worms will naturally migrate towards food and I'm not a fan of cleaning out my worm bin, I looked at some commercially available composters and decided I could make one. As the worms eat the food in the bottom bin and move up to the next one, you're left with super compost without the tangled mass of worms.

Step 1: You Will Need...

-- At least 3 stackable totes with lids. I used shoebox sized Rubbermaid totes but Styrofoam coolers would work too. Consider the amount of scraps your family created in a week to help choose the size of bins. 2 people live in my house and we don't generate much scrap.
-- A drill
-- A large drill bit. I used a 21/64 because that's what I found in the basement.
-- 4 small plastic containers to use as risers. I used small yogurt cups (not shown)
-- Some newspaper, shredded
-- A handful of dirt. For indoor composters, bug free potting soil.
-- Red worms

Step 2: Prepare the Bins...

Leave one bin untouched! Rotting foods tend to leak and you'll need something to catch the drips. This water can be used to water plants.

For the rest of the bins: drill as many holes in the bottom of your bins without compromising structural integrity. The holes should be big enough to allow an adult worm to pass through. You may need to get more bins as time goes by. I started with 3 bins and will be upgrading to 6 soon.

Step 3: Using the Bins

Put some shredded paper in the bottom of the bin and your bin is now ready to use! I keep an empty bin (with the paper in the bottom of it) under the kitchen sink. When it's full, I add a layer of paper and a bit of dirt and move it to the basement. I also keep one of the spare lids under the bin in the kitchen to catch whatever may slip through the holes. If your bin starts to smell, add more newsprint. Newspaper is very good at absorbing odors.

Step 4: Setting Up the Condo

The untouched bin goes in the bottom. Put the small plastic containers in the corners to act as risers. Stackable containers don't allow for much room between bins when they're stacked one inside the other. Also, worm bins do generate liquids and if you give it melon rinds and ignore it, it can generate a lot of liquid!
Place your first full bin on the risers and add your worms. If you put a lid on it, your worms are less likely to escape. As you fill bins, add them to the stack. Need compost or run out of bins? Take a look in the bottom bin. It should be compost and ready to reuse. If you're just setting up and the bottom bin is still scraps, you'll need to acquire and perforate more bins. An established worm colony can eat through my garbage in under a month. I've heard it can take about 3 months to establish a colony.



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    Worms eat trees ! If you have cardboard boxes cluttering up your house render them into worm food.Cut into small pieces and soak in water then put in blender.Pour a small strip in the center of the bin over the kitchen scraps.Also works for envelopes(junk mail/bills)^_^

    If we are composting outside, would it be fine to have a tray just collect the drippings or is there some benefit for the worms to have a bottom bin that has no holes.

    1 reply

    The bin with no holes just catches the drippings. A tray would work beautifully too :)

    We're vermicomposters as well, and we are mixing our worm castings with coconut coir as a growing medium for microgreens and for our seedlings. Such amazing stuff! Glad you are forwarding the soil growing movement!

    So, do I need to transfer the worms from bin to bin? How do they migrate from one bin to another? And what bin do I initially add the worms to? I am new to worm composting.... I have been composting with just scraps and hay in a barrel for about a year now and am ready to try my hand with the worms. Your method looks quite easy and really want to try. Also what about cold months? do the worms die off, and if not can the compost be stored until needed? Thank you SO much for this awesome instructable!

    1 reply

    The worms tend to be small enough to travel through the holes in the bottom of the bins. Once they've eaten all the food in the bottom bin, they will migrate up to the next bin. As for winter storage, that will depend on where you live and how big your bin is. My bins are about the size of shoe boxes and wont generate enough heat to keep the worms outside during a Canadian winter (they live in my basement all year round). I've heard that larger bins can be kept in a sheltered area (like a shed) and will survive. Red wiggler worms are native to Brazil and are not frost tolerant :P When my bins are done composting, I dump them in a large flower pot outside and use the compost when I need it. The water that get's caught in the bottom (the bin with no holes) is great liquid fertilizer for plants. Good luck with your bin!

    Hi, love your instructable! Do you put the paper in all the perforated bins? I have axolotls and they would naturally eat worms in the wild so this is a really useful thing for me! Do you use the liquid castings as well, or can you just throw them out? Thanx!!!!!

    1 reply

    Liquid castings from a worm bin make an excellent fertilizer for your houseplants..

    How do the worms get from the bottom to the top? They can't fly (can they?? jks).

    So the middle bin you put newspaper (can i put packing paper??) the top bin u put food and the bottom one is sewage? On a utube video i saw that they used two bins, same way you did it except 1 bin carried the newspaper, also can u use cardboard?

    I have a question for you. What do you do with the bins that have been eaten through by the worms? Is there any way to clean them out and reuse them versus buying more bins? I'm also curious as to how long this method of worm composting has worked for you. Are all the castings and liquid found in the bottom bin with the risers?

    2 replies

    The content if the bins that have been eaten through gets added to my garden and I reuse the bins. Only the liquids (and sometimes some small worms) are in the bottom bin with the risers. I've been using this worm bin system for about 7 months now. My decision to expand my system is based more on laziness than anything else. I've been toping up the bins in the basement instead of doing a bin shuffle. More bins means the worms have more time to eat through the layers and you get compost sooner.

    Thank you! That clears it up for me.