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Worm composting is an easy way to turn your food waste and shredded paper into rich fertilizer for your plants. You can also feel great about keeping your food waste out of the landfill, where it turns into methane, a stinky greenhouse gas. Worm composting, on the other hand, does not stink - don't believe me? Try it yourself!

As a long-time "worm composter" or vermicomposter, I have tried many different types of worm bin systems. I've made several of those simple boxes with holes drilled in them, wood ones, rubbermaid bins, etc. and while the worms seem happy in there, I am too lazy to separate the worms from the compost that results. I've also tried those stacking type, both the homemade type and the expensive worm farm type. I like those better, but I'm still not happy with lifting out those dirty, heavy trays to get to the good stuff in the bottom tray. It always gets my clothes and basement dirty. I read about a funnel shaped, plasticized bag called the "Worm Swag", which uses a "flow-through" system of composting where your leftover food goes in at the top, the worms hang out up there, eating the food and the finished compost can be harvested from the bottom. This inspired me to make my own worm bag integrated into a table I called the Digestive Table, which can be seenhere. People emailed me, wishing this was easier for them to build themselves, so I came up with this simplified version. I call it the worm bag.

This version of the worm bag is made of wood, so you'll need some tools, a saw, a drill, a carpenter's square and a palm sander. If you don't have access to these, or you just don't feel like getting dirty, you might be interested in the laundry hamper worm bag, which only requires sewing a bag and purchasing a laundry hamper frame (around $20). Mine is a nice sturdy chrome style from the Container Store, pictured below. The bag part of this Instructable is designed for the wood frame style, so you'll need to adjust your measurements if you go with the laundry hamper frame instead. I decided to focus this Instructable on the wood frame style, because it is a little cheaper to build and more customizable.

I spent around $40 on materials. This is what you will need and the approximate cost:

$7.50 for 1.5 yards of fabric - 100% polyester felt. Ecospun from Joanne Fabrics is what I've used here because I like that it is made of post-consumer recycled bottles. I've also used landscaping fabric.
$1.79 for a package of 2 cord stops Joanne Fabrics
$2.59 for a spool of thread - 100% polyester or nylon. Cotton will disintegrate, so don't use it for this project.
$4.24 for 1 length of pine, 8' x 2" x 1"
$6.48 for 2 lengths of pine, 6' x 2" x 1
$5.00 for a Rubbermaid wash tub - or another brand that has a 12.5" x 12.5" sized tub
$5.00 ? for a 1/4" thick piece of plywood that is 20" x 15" - not really sure how much this is, since I had some around.
$3.00 ? for 16 wood screws 1 1/4" long - again I'm guessing on price here
$3.00 for some wood glue
$3.00 ? for 2.5 yards of nylon cord - I actually just used some old hiking boot laces I had around.

The finished project measures 24" tall x 20" wide and 15" deep. It will fit nicely in your home, pantry, basement or even at your office. Impress your work friends with your recycling gadget that eats coffee grounds, teabags, unwanted lunch scraps and shredded paper, turning it all into office plant fertilizer!

Step 1: Layout Your Fabric

We are starting with the fabric bag sewing part, then moving onto the wood construction.

The polyester felt fabric comes 72" wide and you'll need to get 1 1/2 half yards of it. The EcoSpun fabric I chose at Joanne Fabrics was only $5 a yard and I saw a lot of great colors there. I picked a dark color because I did not want the coffee grounds and other foods to show stains. I'm not sure if they would though.

This fabric is not as thick as it needs to be to strong enough to hold all the worm goodness and keep it dark enough inside for them, so it is doubled up. In the pattern youll see the basic layout and where to fold the fabric over. After folding your fabric, you will have a rectangle that is 42" x 36". Get a piece of chalk so you can map out where to cut it.
Re: Sciaridae infestation... these are fungus gnats. They are bothersome but harmless to humans. I get them in my house plants sometimes. To get rid of them you have to let your soil, or in this case, worm environment, dry out a little more than usual until the larvae in the soil die off. It takes awhile, be patient. Although a drenching of malathion will kill the larvae quickly I don't like to use chemicals, and you couldn't do this with the worms anyway, so I just ride it out when I get them in my plants. In fact I have an outbreak of them now near my computer, very annoying, but at least it makes me take my hands off the keyboard now and then as I swat them.<br /> <br /> I loooove this instructable, BTW!!<br />
<p>Finally found an excellent remedy to get rid of fungus gnats that won't hurt the worms. Gnatrol, https://www.valent.com/professional/products/gnatrol/ </p>
<p>To get rid of fungus gnats, look for &quot;mosquito dunks&quot; or &quot;mosquito bits&quot; at a hardware or gardening store. If you use the dunks, break them up very small (wear gloves!!! - REALLY) and then sprinkle them on the soil. They contain a bacteria that will kill the fungus gnat larvae. <br>They are harmless to humans, but you still don't want to touch them for too long, so wear gloves!</p>
<p>Thanks a ton for sharing your knowledge. At step 22 bed of coir is mentioned. How thick or thin should this bed of coir be? </p>
<p>I just use a full coir brick https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&amp;ion=1&amp;espv=2&amp;ie=UTF-8#q=coir+brick&amp;* to get the system started. It is not necessary, as wet shredded newspaper or egg crates can be used as bedding instead. The coir does a better job of retaining the right level of moisture though. You can mix bedding materials too.</p>
This is an awesome Instructable!!!<br>I made one right away! I have it in a nook by my sink (I can't seem to attach a picture.) I hung a light over it because my 1.5 cm long (adult size, Philippine) native worms were climbing up and drying out. Since my worms are tiny and I have but 50 that I was able to collect from my yard so far, they have just a small amount of bedding in the bottom until they slowly populate the bin.<br>May I ask, Amy, how many years might the felt last before it has to be replaced? Are you still using yours? Thank you so very much for doing this Instructable!
<p>I have been using my current one for about 7 years. They last a long time, but the first one I made I tried to put through the washer and it looked a bit ragged after that so I replaced it.</p>
<p>I love this instructable and want to make one. I have bought fabric already but it is quite thick and I would like to know if I still need to double it. How thick is your fabric? Mine is 330g/m&sup2; which is about 5mm thick.</p>
<p>Yes, your fabric sounds like it is thick enough already, so you would not need to double it up. The fabric I used here is the cheap thinner type. Probably 2 or 3 mm.</p>
<p>At step 7 I sewed a &quot;tunnel&quot; about 3/4&quot; from the top and bottom for the cord to go through so it wouldn't slide up/down the bag. Also, I first bought cord stops with only one hole and quickly realized that both ends of the cord would not fit in the one hole so I had to buy two-hole cord stops. It might be helpful to specify two-hole cord stops in the materials list.</p>
<p>There seems to be a small calculation mistake, I think the second measurement for the bottom of the bag should be 22.5 not 25.5. </p>
<p>I'm so excited to get my worms! Lol, never thought I would be saying that!</p>
Love this instructable! Great instructions. If only I had printed out the full direction for the frame, my hubby and I would not have ended up arguing at OSH. I copied down 8" & 6" instead of feet. After the argument, I decided to just go with the laundry hamper idea. The fabric was on sale at Joanne's for $2.99/yd so I bought enough to make 2 chutes. I cut out a square at the bottom with a vertical saw to access the chute when harvesting the future compost. I replaced the laundry hamper cover and Voila! Thank you for this great idea!
<p>I kid you not, I built an identical one to yours. same hamper and all. before I ever saw your design. except I used a laundry bag with the adjustment already on it and cut the bottom out and stretched it over the edge. I'll post a pic. I'll make a quick instructable about it I think as I took some photos in the process.</p>
<p>Neat! I'm really interested in all of the various ways to do in-home composting and I'm glad I'm not the only one. I just posted a new concept called the &quot;Worm Cozy&quot; over on my blog here: http://wormculture.org/2015/03/20/wormcozy/ I'm also showcasing other people's creative worm projects on there.</p>
What a great idea, did you cut these hampers in half?
Hi I didn't fully understand the laundry bag one, do you make a hole underneath the laundry bin? does this laundry bin come with a cover? Does the material have to be thick?
Sorry for late response. I didn't cut a hole on the bottom - only on the back side of the bin for easy access when harvesting, also for aesthetics. The cut out area holds my gloves for harvesting & checking the wormies. This bin came w/ a cover as do most of them. I made 2 of these - I use the other to place the harvest - let it sit there for another week and wait for the baby worms. I place the baby worms back to the main one so they can make me more worms. I make compost tea with the manure using DIY Deuley's Texas Tea Brewer - happy composting
I like your plastic hamper innovation. Much easier than having to do all the wood construction. Plus, a decision that reduces fights with spouses is always a good one, well done! -amy
<p>how many worms should I start out with for this size set up?</p>
A pound will work well. You can always start out with fewer and they will naturally grow the population to fit the space and the amount of food you feed. One of the best &quot;getting started&quot; guides is here: http://www.redwormcomposting.com/getting-started/ Good luck!
<p>Hi I was hoping to get some additional ideas of other types of fabric/materials that would work for making this. I look forward to every ones input, suggestions and ideas. Thanks jm</p>
<p>nice</p>
<p>my dad's always complaining about worms, i'm going to send him this way.</p>
<p>A test model using your design.. thank you... https://plus.google.com/photos/113788272212579538140/albums/6042314440730927169?banner=pwa</p>
<p>usually in the other worm bins I find the worms just stay at the bottom... hope it is different in this model</p>
<p>Thanks for the pics of your lovely floral worm bin bag! I hope you don't mind I reposted here for others to see too. I look forward to seeing what kind of lid you might make for this one. If you keep it really dark on the top and put the food and paper waste at the top, the worms will congregate up there.</p>
you could do a smaller sized one with a shirt.
<p>Yes, you could - just make sure it is a strong shirt since it can get heavy. Over time, worms will eat cotton and other natural fibers. When you make yours, please do post it here so we can see it!</p>
excellent
I LOVE IT!!! Any luck with it? I'm gonna make it but I'm gonna raise it higher So i'm not all hunched over on the ground while harvesting. Having the bottom at waist level sounds peachy... a little rock dust helps worms digest their food. so a bit of it to start doesn't hurt.
This looks great! How many pounds of bedding/food-scraps can it hold? My uncle has one of these, with draw strings at the bottom of the bag, but it seems to always leak, and so keeps a bucket underneath at all times. <br> <br>Also, for bedding, every couple months he adds a mixture of Coconut Coir, grass clippings, shredded newspapers/cardboard and some manure... <br> <br>I know some bedding material is unsuitable for the red wiggler worms, like perlite (which apparently is glasslike).. but does anyone have any experience with vermiculite or peat moss? Is it worth the money? <br> <br>The place I'm ordering a pound of worms also sells a moisture / ph meter for $8 that could be nice to keep track and make sure its ~80% damp 6.5PH. But is this overkill? <br> <br>The only part that seems like it could be a chore is separating the worm castings from the worms, from the unprocessed food-scraps, from the bedding! Any suggestions? <br>
When you first put worms into their new home they will need bedding, but after they get established, you can just add waste and you won't need to buy anything like vermiculite. To start out with, I do find coir the best to start out with since it holds the correct amount of moisture, but wet newspaper will work too. They do eventually eat up the &quot;bedding&quot;. So, yeah, if you add more, they will just eat it up, no problem. <br> <br>By the time the worms have done their eating of the food and &quot;bedding&quot;, it has settled to the bottom of the bag, which is why it is easy to separate it from the worms. They tend to stay towards the middle and top where the food is. <br> <br>I probably add a pound of food waste a week + some shredded paper on top. I'm not sure though, how many pounds it all is total though. Anyone else have estimates? <br> <br>
I use my own homemade stackable worm bin. I am interested in trying this, but I am curious. Have you had any problems with the compost packing down too much? I wasn't sure if the funnel shape would cause the compost to compact, which in turn would lead to odors. Great Instructable. Thanks.
Yes, the compost does compact at the end of the funnel, but since it is finished compost by the time it gets down there, it does not smell. The compacting is not usually too much trouble, unless I let it dry out too much, which makes it like a rock stuck in there. The way I have fixed this problem is to add a lot of water to wet it throughout. I poured a gallon of water through the top every couple of days until it soaked the bottom part enough to loosen it up and come out through the bottom. Now, in the winter when I know the air is drier in my house, I just add a glass of water whenever I put food in the top.
I LOVE the continuous flow system and have set up several bags for friends... the problem that i have had however is that despite efforts to trap and deter mice they are a fact of life in our old apartment and they loved the worm bag as much as i do... they chewed a door into it and made it their new nest.... GROSS!<br><br>So, sadly my progress was for naught but i am going to post up a 'step can' tutorial for those who might have similar problems. <br><br>I am converting a steel stepcan into the new vermienvironment and its sturdy construction should keep out any little critters. <br><br>cross your fingers for me, but for those of you who also co-habitate with mice on occasion, this is fair warning. :(
That is not something I've had trouble with myself, so I appreciate your experience here. Great to hear you have invented the solution to the problem already! The stepcan conversion sounds to me as if it will provide perfect security against mice. The only thing I'd be concerned with would be aeration of the steel can. Do they make these perforated? If not, I'd recommend drilling small holes into the side of the can to allow air flow. Please do post a picture when you make it, I'd love to see it and hear how it works!
So I have a fat ton of polyester fleece from my long ago &quot;Oh, let's make Ren Faire Outfits&quot; phase ... will that do alright, then?
I love the thought of the worms hanging out in a stylish, fuzzy fleece bag! It will probably be harder to sew, but it should work. As long as there is no tasty natural fibers in there, the worms won't eat it. Please post a photo when you get it done, I want to see it!
So great instructable! I followed most part of it.<br>I am happy wormkeeper now very much thanks to this instructable which gave me courage to take them into a tiny apartment.<br><br>I thought I would briefly share my modifications too. My wormbin has wheels because I have to move things around in my little kitchen when I use my laundry machine. And with wheels it's convenient to have a &quot;floor&quot; for the wormtea bowl.<br>The frame and bag are really contrast colored so I did not want the fabric covering the rim. Solution was to use wire in a fabric tunnel and attach the wire to the frame in cornes only. It's not too perfect actually, when the bag gets heavy wire might slip over the screws holding it - needs an improvement.<br>
Nice bin - wheels are a great addition! I also like the fabric pattern you picked because it looks like flowers and spider webs at the same time. The rim of your bag looks sturdy. I guess if it starts pulling away with weight you could just put a few screws right through the bag fabric into the wood. Maybe use some grommets to keep it from tearing. Maybe it will hold just fine as it is, too.<br><br>Thanks so much for posting the pictures of your modifications for others to see here!<br><br>amy
Great set-up, and I like the easy continuous flow design. This beats stacking systems as you have to 'dump' &amp; 'sort'.
Hi, the worm bin bag looks so cool. I was just wondering if it can be used outdoors. I'm from Australia and was wanting to put under my verandah outdoors. Do you have any suggestions on other materials that i can use or if the felt will still work? <br>Thanks great job!
It should work outside if it does not freeze where you are. The worms also don't like the direct sun baking them. The felt should hold up outside because it is plastic - polyester that is made from recycled plastic bottles. I have not tried it outside myself though. For my design I was inspired by a product called the &quot;Australian Worm Swag&quot; which is a huge flow through vermicomposter made of plastic that hangs from a tree. You might check into that too, to see if it would work for you or if it gives you some ideas for making your own hanging version.
Thanks for your advice. It definately doesn't freeze here about 12 degrees (53 farenheit) lowest for about a week during winter. Probably an issue other way 30+ degree (86 farenheit) and 90-95% humidity during summer months but that is about 5 months of the year. I won't be putting directly in sun but the humidity may be an issue. Is it best to just keep it moist?
LOL so I tried a mini version of this with a shirt, TOTAL FAIL! The worms ate right through the shirt, luckily I put it inside a rubbermaid box so it didn't get everywhere.
Yeah, they love to eat cotton, wool and rayon (wood based). I guess if you use a polyester or acrylic shirt it might work, though!
Fantastic idea, job and instructable, makes me wand to do vermicomposting at home.
This is an AWESOME instructible, Kudos for sure!
This is really cool - we bought a composter last year and have it out in the yard, but I looked into using worms first. Unfortunately, all of the user reviews of the pre-made versions said the worms were drowning in the liquids that pooled at the bottom. I love that everything drips down and if the worms come out, they land safely in the bin! <br>http://www.weknowstuff.us.com/

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