Do-it-Yourself Vertical Worm Farm

Article Contents:

Vertical Worm Farm Design
How to Get Compost Worms
Recommended Reading
Recommended Viewing
About the Author

Worm Bin Design

Here is our unassuming living room. The entertainment unit came with the house, and is meant for an old CRT style television. Since we don't have a TV, the entertainment unit sat empty for 12 months before I installed the worm farm inside.

The vertical worm farm is simpler to manage than the traditional single bin system because the top and middle bins can be flipped easily, allowing the worms to migrate on their own up to the new feeder bin, while vacating the old feeder bin, leaving only castings behind.


Air holes are drilled in the middle and top bins, but the bottom bin will never house worms so is left undrilled. Worm drippings collect in the bottom bin, where a spigot can be installed to easily draw the liquid off.

Worm composting is the only type of composting that can be done indoors, but proper technique is important to ensure that odors and fruit flies are kept to a minimum.

This entire bin system cost about 24$ and was made in about an hour.



Here you can see the bedding only. Underneath, the worms work away at a diet of coffee grounds and egg shells. These worms were only added within the last few days, so the colony is still being expanded to the point where the worms can handle larger volumes of food.

See this guide to worm composting for more about what food scraps are ok to feed to worms.

The bedding used here is shredded office paper, which is not recommended. Better materials to use are shredded acid-free newsprint (with plant-based inks) and leaf mulch.


Spacers are important in this bin design to prevent the weight of the top and middle bins from crushing the worms in the bins below it. I am using empty plant pots as spacers here, but these will be swapped out for thinner spacers in the future.

For detailed building plans, see the instructions at the Working Worms website.




How to get Compost Worms

Worm composting is done with a special species of worm called a red wiggler. You should get red wigglers from a known source since they are specifically bred for their job. You can usually expect to pay 40$ per pound of worms, but you only have to buy them once since they breed very quickly.

To save money, worms can be ordered online. You can order them from most seed companies or if you live in the U.S, you can get them cheap from Amazon.

Recommended Reading

The two books I have found most useful are Worms Eat My Garbage and Worm Farm Management.

"Worms Eat my Garbage" is better for the uninitiated worm composter, and is the best known book about worm composting.

"Worm Farm Management" is for more experienced users who want to optimize their worm farming systems or go into large-scale worm production.



Recommended Viewing

Below is the best short video I've found on building a vertical worm farm. The worm farm shown is even cheaper than mine, if you can find similar styrofoam containers!

Get more information

If you're interested in delving deeper into worm composting, I highly recommend the free worm composting newsletter from


About the author:

Trevor manages a bicycle-powered Victoria BC Composting Company called Pedal to
Petal and breeds worms at his home to innoculate his compost piles with. Also see his Buy Red Worms Online site.




Website: Fernwood Web Design