Basic Box Bin


Beginner’s  Habitats:


A nice size bin to start a typical family of 2-3 people is a 10-gallon tote bin (drill holes with a 1/4″ bit in the bottom & lid) and start with 4 oz. of worms.  Elevate your bin about a catchment tray.  Give coconut coir a try as bedding, either on it’s own or mixed with shredded paper

find my quick reference Cheat Sheet & Harvesting Tips below!

The CLASSIC starter bin:

Millions of people worldwide have their first experience with vermicomposting in a simple, inexpensive box bin. It can be a container of any kind with holes in the bottom for drainage and holes in the lid for ventilation, elevated above a drip pan. The bin pictured is elevated on two bricks, providing plenty of air beneath the bin and allowing leachate to flow out and away.


All box bins are batch processors, meaning all stages of decomposition occur in one container, requiring removing layers of “fresh” waste, “semi processed waste” and completely processed cast, then replacement of layers to continue processing.

To start a box bin build a thick layer of  moist shredded cellulose material.  Mix in “bed run” (material worms are “packaged” in) to inoculate bedding.   Add worms and food waste, then  cover with a layer of wet fluffy shredded paper.

Feed by placing food under the paper cover at least once a week, but preferably 2-3 times a week.  Add fresh shredded paper to the top and water as needed, ensuring that the cover layer completely covers all your food scraps and is moist.  When watering, add enough so that there is excess coming out the bottom of your system.  If you experience difficulty keeping your cover layer moist, try a breathable cover over the shredded paper.  Kokua Worms jute “Worm Blanket” is a great accessory to help retain moisture.


At least twice a month, add more shredded paper or coconut coir to your cover layer, place food on top, and start a new cover layer.  You are creating internal layers of air pockets, helping your system stay aerobic throughout.

At the end of the first 6 month cycle, harvest and sort worms from the finished cast.  (You may choose to stop feeding for 1-2 weeks prior to harvesting your vermicast.) Harvest cast by either removing the contents of your bin by layers or pushing contents aside to expose finished cast below, this will avoid mixing unprocessed material from the finished cast.  Add fresh carbon material to the bottom of the bin before either returning the unprocessed paper, food, and lighter cast to the bin, or pushing contents the other way to expose the other half of the finished cast.  Worms then need to be sorted from the finished cast and returned to the bin.  

To sort worms: push your newly removed cast into mounds and allow light to cause the worms to move down into the mound creating a worm ball, then walk away for at least 15 min.  Come back to skim cast away from the top and sides of the mound.  Repeat this process until most of the cast is removed and the worms are ready to go back into the bin.  Healthy happy worms will move quickly while lethargic under-fed worms will move slower.  

Allow the finished vermicast to sit for 1 month before using it in the garden, lawn, potted plants, or using for making liquid fertilizer. (This allows any unfavorable bacteria to die off.)

~Do not store cast in closed container or allow to dry out- organisms need to breath and will die of cast dries out.

Though the semi-annual (at least) harvesting can be a bit time-consuming and may interrupt your composting cycle during the 1-2 week pre-harvest break, it is crucial for the long term health of your worm colony to remove the worm poop.

* Print these for easy quick reference: Reference Sheet 2017,  Harvesting Procedures 2017