Lauren David is a Chilean-American freelance writer. She writes about gardening, food, health and wellness, and sustainability. She has been published in Allrecipes, Greatist, The Healthy, The Kitchen and more.
Image by Nabi Tang / Stocksy
May 29, 2022
Ready to turn your food scraps into compost without too much effort? Consider vermicomposting, or worm composting—a system where worms break down organic waste into a nutrient-rich soil amendment, often referred to as black gold.
If you’re ready to embark on your vermicomposting journey, these are the best worm composter bins to get you started.
What worm composting bins do.
“A worm composting bin provides a closed environment in which worms, usually red wigglers, eat your leftover food scraps and excrete waste known as castings,” explains Matt Eddleston, a gardener with over 20 years of experience and founder of Gardening Vibe. “The worm castings are nutrient-rich, making them an ideal organic fertilizer for growing plants.”
A worm bin can be as simple as a plastic container with a lid, or as complicated as a multi-layer bin with many different compartments and features.
While you can save money by building your own bin, Chia-Ming Ro, a garden consultant and owner of Coastal Homestead explains that buying a pre-made one “takes the guesswork out.” Considering that an ill-fitted bin could leave too little room for air to get in—or not enough room for air to flow through—opting for a pre-made one will better set you up for success from the beginning.
Worm composting bins also come with many optional features, such as stackable trays or spigots, which can be harder to design yourself.
How to choose your bin.
When you’re deciding on what compost bin is best for you, the first step is thinking about how you’ll use it. “It’s a good idea to consider how much space you have to keep the bin, the volume of food scraps to process, and how much discrete you want the appearance to be,” says Eddleston.
You’ll want to keep your bin in a cool spot that doesn’t get direct sun; Either inside a basement or garage, or outside on a covered porch. Some bins are better suited to be indoors while others are designed to be outside.
When it comes to nature working its magic, the conditions are important, so you should also think about your familiarity with vermicomposting. “Some bins help to keep the conditions humid, well-drained, and well-aerated without much intervention needed from you, increasing the chances of faster compost production,” explains Eddleston.
Finally, consider the bin’s size. “Ideally, your worm bin has two bins that allow worms to move freely from one to the next,” says Ro.
“Stackable bins can process a lot of food scraps and have a small footprint,” Eddleston explains. “But if you’re living in an apartment, you might want a smaller model with fewer trays than some of the larger bins that are better suited for outdoors or a house with garage space.”
How we picked up
Our list comes vetted by vermicomposting experts who are familiar with the process.
Whether you’re looking to shell out or save, there’s a bin for your budget on our list.
Whether you want to proudly display your bin in the garden or keep it discreetly in your garage, there’s an option here for you.
Since everyone has different space restrictions, we made sure to provide a variety of bin sizes and shapes.
mbg’s picks for the best worm compost bins of 2022:
- Easy to use
- Comes together fast
- Better for outdoor use, as it can leak
If you’re new to worm composting or simply want an easy set-up, consider this worm bag. “This simple-to-use vermicomposting bin enables you to process a large volume of scraps without having to mess around with trays,” says Eddleston. “You just place bedding at the bottom and add food scraps to the top.”
Typically, castings are ready in 4 to 6 months, and all you have to do is unzip the bottom and let them fall into a tray or bucket.
“This vermicomposting bin is small enough to fit in the corner of your kitchen or on a small balcony area,” says Eddleston. “The bin comes with detailed instructions, is easy to set up, and comes with everything you need to get started, including coco coir bedding (but not the worms).”
The benefit of this compact size is you can easily move it from one location to another if you need to. And thanks to the sleek design, it’s not obvious worms are living inside.
- Fits lots of scraps
If you’re looking to process a lot of food scraps, “this stackable vermicomposting bin has one of the largest capacities on the market,” Eddleston says. It also has the advantage that you can add an additional two trays to the initial four, so you have ample room for all your food scraps.
- Fits lots of scraps
- Not suitable for indoor use
This stackable worm compost bin comes with five trays and the option to add even more, as well as a built-in spigot to drain excess liquid. There’s also a special bonus feature: “The ‘shoes’ that fit around the feet of the product are particularly useful for using this bin in your backyard,” says Eddleston. “When filled with water they prevent ants from getting inside and killing your worms.”
Best for people who don’t love worms: SUBPOD Composting System & Worm Farm
SUBPOD Composting System & Worm Farm
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- Fits lots of scraps
- Easy to use
- Not suitable for indoor use
If you’re squeamish around worms or are not sure you’re ready to interact with them, this is the composter for you. It’s a two-chamber bin that can be placed inside your soil or a raised garden bed. “Worms can come and go as they like and [it] does not require turning the compost,” says Ro.
Eddleston adds that it’s “a very hands-off solution, as you don’t need to empty the container to collect castings.” Plus, it doubles as a small bench in the garden, holding up to 150 pounds thanks to a reinforced latch design.
Want to start vermicomposting but don’t want it to be obvious that you have pet worms? “The Urbalive vermicomposter has the most stylish design on the market, making it a good choice for people with limited space,” says Eddleston.
The lightweight bin is easy to move and has a sleek and elegant design that you’ll be eager to show off, indoors or out. Although small, there’s an option to expand from two trays to four, depending on your needs.
How do you start your bin?
Once you have your bin and order your worms, you can get the process started by filling the worm’s bin with a mix of food scraps (green and brown) and “bedding” such as shredded paper, cardboard, straw, hay, dry leaves, dirt, or wood chips.
Worms can eat a variety of food scraps including fruit and vegetable scraps and coffee grounds, but avoid giving them citrus fruits, animal, and dairy products. The key to maintaining your bed is making sure it has the right amount of food (and therefore, moisture) at all times. When the system is out of balance, it will start to smell. Here’s a complete primer on getting started feeding your bin.
Mix your bin periodically to loosen up its materials and prevent odors and with any luck, you’ll have black gold on your hands in no time.
How long does it take to compost with worms?
One of the main differences between worm composting and traditional composting has to do with speed. “Vermicomposting is faster than traditional composting and you also get the added benefit of worm castings (ie. poop),” says Ro.
Typically, you’ll need to dedicate only 30 minutes a week and will have castings within 3- 6 months. And how much can worms eat on average per day? “One pound of worms can eat about 1/2 pound of food a day,” says Ro.
Tips & tricks to try.
Here, Eddleston and Ro share their best tips for anyone who wants to give it a go with a worm bin:
- “To increase the speed at which the worms produce vermicompost, you should keep the bin between 15-25 °C,” says Eddleston.
- “Keep your food scraps in a sealed container before adding them to the vermicompost bin,” says Eddleston. “This prevents flies from laying eggs in the food and keeps them out of your bin.”
- Ro explains to avoid adding “too much citrus or onions all at once.”
- “If your worms are slow at eating the food scraps you give them, try cutting them up into smaller chunks. This usually helps them process the scraps quicker,” Eddleston explains.
- The worm bin shouldn’t smell. If it does, it’s an indicator that something is amiss. “A well-balanced compost should have no foul odors,” says Ro.
Worm composting sounds intimidating, but with the right bin, it can be pretty painless. Choose a bin from this list that fits your needs and get ready to live more sustainably by converting your food waste into gold.