14 Easy Steps To Make Vermicompost

Vermicompost, another type of compost, uses worms to break down organic matter such as fresh produce, fruit and vegetable peels, etc. It is a safe and inexpensive method that improves the quality of the soil with little to no impact on the surrounding environment.

Vermicompost involves the breakdown of plant-based organic matter by worms, thus transforming it into compost. It’s an easy-step guide to follow with significant benefits for you and the environment. If maintained correctly, you can avoid unpleasant smells discharging into your home.

If you are interested in vermicomposting but need help determining where or how to begin, this article will help you.

A Beginners Guide To Vermicompost

Composting is a non-invasive way of transforming organic waste into a viable source of nutrients and other essential minerals necessary for your soil and plants. Vermicompost introduces worms as a source to break down plant-based organic matter.

Here are 14 easy steps for you to follow in making vermicompost. The following method best suits the home gardener with small open spaces for a traditional compost heap.

Step 1: Preparing Space Indoors For A Vermicompost Bin

There are mixed reactions towards keeping a vermicompost bin indoors. Many people are put off by the smell of decaying foods, etc. However, if constructed correctly and provided, you throw in the correct waste, and the smell should not be an issue.

If the thought of having wriggly worms around freaks you, keep the bin away from the living areas.

Find a space with a balanced temperature and moisture control. It is best to keep the vermicompost bin away from extreme temperatures, such as an oven, air-conditioner, heater, or an air-vent.

The ideal indoor temperature for vermicompost should be between 55-75 Degrees C (131-167 degrees Fahrenheit).

Store the bin in the laundry room or other storage space, and if possible close to the kitchen area where it is easy to throw in food scraps.

Step 2: Selecting A Vermicompost Bin

As a beginner to vermicomposting, you have a few options for selecting vermicompost bins. If you are in a hurry to begin, you may purchase a vermicompost bin from any gardening store or organic supplier.

Several types are available depending on your size and space requirements.

If you enjoy working with your hands, a homemade vermicompost bin may be right up your alley.

To build your vermicompost bin, you require a 20-gallon plastic storage container, preferably one that comes with a lid. Please ensure the container is of a dark color to keep out the light.

Step 3: Ventilation Is Essential To The Vermicompost Bin

Your worms require adequate ventilation for healthy growth. They also require a good oxygen supply to break down the organic matter.

Using your power drill, you need to drill holes about half an inch (1,25cm) in diameter around the sides, bottom, and lid of the vermicompost bin.

Once complete, you also need to glue a layer of landscaping fabric over the lid, which you can purchase from any gardening supply store. Hessian may be a good option as well.

This mesh-like material allows for good air circulation and prevents worms from getting out of the bin! Yes, these wrigglers are picky, and if conditions are unsuitable, the little wrigglers will escape.

You can easily glue the landscaping material onto the lid with a crafter's glue gun.

Step 4: Raise The Bin Off The Ground

This is a significant step to prevent a mess on your kitchen floor and allows for cross-ventilation and correct air circulation around the bin.

To raise the bin off the ground, find two pieces of wood, cement blocks, or bricks of equal size and length, if available. You do not want your vermicompost bin to be unsafe!

It would be best if you covered the floor around the vermicompost bin with a large plastic sheet. Now, you are ready to place the blocks over the plastic and the vermicompost bin over the blocks.

Step 5: Wriggling Worms For Vermicompost

Before going through all the inconveniences of making your vermicompost bin or purchasing one and preparing the space for it, you should find out all you can about the worms you will be using.

Red wigglers or red earthworms are the most common and preferred worms for vermicompost. However, you will find other varieties, such as the Asian Jumping worm, marketed as the Alabama or Georgia Jumper.

Caution should be taken with these species, as they are invasive and could do more harm than good!

A kilogram of these wrigglers is all you need as they go through waste very quickly! So go online to find the best place for you to purchase your wrigglers. You can also look around local gardening supply stores. They may astonish you with what they have in stock.

Step 6: Preparing A Habitat For The Worms

To ensure your worms thrive and survive, they require an environment that is as warm and nourishing as the soil they live in. The worms need an area that provides adequate warmth and moisture, or they will escape from the bin!

It would be best if you recreated their preferred environment artificially.

Shred a generous amount of newspaper and cardboard to fill the bin about 8 inches (20 cm) in height. The shredded newspaper provides good bedding and retains moisture, making the bin an ideal residence for those red wigglers.

Step 7: Give The Bedding A Good Soak

Water is another vital component to ensure the worms are happy. Before adding the worms to the vermicompost bin, drench the shredded paper or cardboard in water. The moisture from the paper keeps the worms hydrated.

Step 8: Lay The Bedding Into The Bin

The moist newspaper serves as bedding for the worms. Once the newspaper is sufficiently drenched, you can place it into the worm bin. In this regard, evenly spread the shredded paper over the bin's base.

The paper should cover approximately 8 inches (20cm) of the bin's base. This gives the worms sufficient room to move around.

Step 9: Pour In Soil Over The Bedding

With a vermicompost bin, you attempt to re-create an environment suitable for the worms. Once the bedding is in place, you need to evenly spread the soil over it.

You can add debris-free soil from outdoors. Alternatively, some ordinary potting soil also works well.

Step 10: Spread An Even Layer Of Food Waste

You may now spread a layer of food waste over the prepared, moist bedding. Plant-based waste, like fruits and vegetables, rinds, cores and peelings, coffee grounds, tea bags, and eggshells, is best suited for vermicompost.

You may also throw your old socks, T-shirts, and boxers into the bin. However, this is a pivotal point; the clothing must be composed of 100 % natural fibers, such as cotton, linen, wool, or silk.

Another helpful tip when throwing food waste into the vermicompost bin is to chop the vegetables and fruit into smaller pieces. These worms are tiny, and although they go through waste at a fast rate, they prefer their food to be in smaller pieces.

At all costs, you should avoid throwing any animal products, either fresh or cooked, into the vermicompost bin. You should also avoid throwing the following foods into the bin.

  • Lemon, lime, orange. You should avoid any citrus fruit, rind, and juice. The citrus fruit alters the acidic levels of the soil, which can hinder the composting process.

  •  Onions, garlic, or any foods with a harsh, pungent smell should not be added to the vermicompost bin. 
  • Any animal proteins, grease, fats, bones, or oils. This includes lard, butter, stocks, and soups. 

These items give off that rotting smell, giving vermicomposting a lousy name. If you stick to organic, plant-based waste, you will avoid any unpleasant odors in your home.

Step 11: Cover And Allow The Waste To Rest

Your bin has the first layer of waste waiting to break down. At this point, you close up the lid and wait for 5-10 days. This waiting period allows the food waste to accumulate an adequate amount of microbes, which the worms will feast on.

Step 12: Add Your Worms Into The Vermicompost Bin

Finally, the day has arrived to welcome your wrigglers! Lift the lid on the bin, and make an indent in the center of the paper bedding. Very carefully drop the worms into the center rather than spreading them over the top of the bedding.

Step 13: Worms Vs. Waste

Composters estimate that you should feed them about half a pound, or 225g of waste per day, for a thousand worms. You should add more worms if you have a bigger family with more food waste. But bear in mind the above approximation.

If there is more daily waste, it may be a good idea to collect the extra food waste and feed the worms at the end of the week. This should average to about four pounds (1,8 kg) per week.

There may not be a need to purchase more worms. Under the right conditions, the worms in the bin reproduce rapidly. However, this is in no way guaranteed or consistent. And obviously, you cannot count them! Therefore take extra precautions and get more worms, if required.

Step 14: It Is Time To Harvest Your Vermicompost

The vermicompost harvesting occurs six months after you add the worms into the bin. Leading up to the six months, you should regularly check on the worms and the bedding. It would be best to look out for the quantity of the bedding the worms have decomposed.

The bedding forms a significant part of the compost. So, if you find the worms have converted most of the bedding into compost, it is time for harvesting.

Reposition the compost to one side of the compost bin, and add another layer of fresh bedding. You can gently move the worms to the side with fresh bedding.

Remove the compost from the bin but ensure no wrigglers are hiding in the compost.

You will find these sneaky wrigglers hiding out in the dark, so you need to sift them out from the compost.

If you don't mind the squishiness of the worms or the feel of them wriggling in your hand, you can scoop handfuls of the compost out of the bin and lay it on a plastic sheet. The worms will creep away from the light, so the compost is easy to separate.

You can get your pre-schoolers to assist with harvesting compost in this way since most don't mind playing with creepy crawlies!

The compost has a mixture of worm castings and other organic matter that the worms have not broken down adequately. You may pick out pieces of eggshells or other veggie peelings before throwing the compost into the garden or veggie patch.

The decision is yours whether or not to throw some worms with the compost into the garden. The worms will help with the overall soil quality, and therefore be a good idea to have them in the garden.

Congratulations! You have successfully started your first vermicompost bin and harvested the first batch of compost.

However, setting up the bin is only the beginning. You still have a way to go.

Let us further explore the world of vermicompost.

Troubleshooting: What To Do With A Smelly Vermicompost Bin?

In all fairness, your vermicompost will not have a floral fragrance. It will smell earthy and musty, like the outdoors. You will only get an undesirable odor when you lift the lid or when something is wrong with the contents.

Another signal that there is something wrong with the vermicompost is if you notice the worms attempting to escape from the bin.

Here are a few helpful suggestions for both you and your worms to prevent that nasty smell from emitting from the bin.

 1. Is There Too Much Moisture In The Vermicompost Bin?

When you notice the compost is too runny, muddy, or has a liquid build-up on the bin's base, this indicates excess moisture in the bin. An easy solution may be to add more shredded paper, especially to the corners of the bin.

The paper soaks up the extra moisture and helps to keep the bin dry again. As much as the worms thrive in moist surroundings, if it is too moist, the bedding may develop mold and rot, which is the reason for the nasty smell.

2. Is The Vermicompost Bin Too Dry?

On the opposite end is a dry bin, which also contributes to a nasty odor emitting from the bin.

You can quickly remedy this by spraying the bedding with water or blending some veggies into a pulp. The pulp encourages microbes and provides the needed moisture in the bin.

3. Is There A Fruit-fly Infestation?

As you are aware, rotting food draws fruit flies around the kitchen. To avoid this problem, try burying the food waste deeper into the bin and possibly covering it with damp paper.

If there is a fruit fly infestation, you need to reduce the amount of food waste you feed into the bin. Reduce the amount for a short period only.

But if the problem persists, covering the bin with a plastic sheet, a piece of hessian fabric, or an old carpet also works.

Your local gardening store may also stock some organic Flytraps to help with the problem. The flytraps are safe and completely free of harmful pesticides.

4. Are Unpleasant Odors Emitting From Vermicompost Bin?

Undoubtedly, you will get a slight odor emitting from the bin. But it should not be overpowering or to the point that you must move the bin outdoors. If this is the case, you should reduce the quantity of food you feed into the bin.

You may also need to look at the type of food thrown into the bin. The food waste is probably rotting at a faster speed than the worms can munch on them.

Only with plant-based foods will you find earthy; musty smells arise from the vermicompost bin.

You can also try stirring through the compost contents. This way, you bring the contents from the bin's bottom to the top. The equal distribution prevents the rotting food from decomposing over the top, thus trapping the foul gases in the bin.

Drilling a few more holes around the bin helps with better air circulation and releases the foul smell of rotting food.

5. Are The Worms Jumping Ship?

These wrigglers are picky about their food for one and second about their environment. When you notice worms outside of the bin, this is a sign, "there is something foul in the state of Denmark!"

The bedding or soil in the container is probably too acidic for the worms to live. This may be due to the food scraps thrown into the bin. An easy solution may be to reduce or avoid the number of acidic foods you add to the bin.


Vermicompost is an easy and efficient way to reduce the waste thrown onto landfill sites. There are minimal initial start-up costs, but the long-term benefits are tremendous. If you follow the well-laid-out steps listed above, you will not have any issues making your vermicompost, which you may use around your garden or indoors. Happy composting!



About the Author

Nirvana Parmanand, passionate about gardening, plants, animals and saving our environment through sustainable living. "To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow," Audrey Hepburn