DIY Simple 5-Gallon Vermicompost System

Want to build your own vermicompost system? Here is a step-by-step guide.

Vermicomposting – or worm composting – can be a great way to turn your garbage into garden gold. It works great for suburban or urban gardeners who don’t have space for a big outdoor compost pile, and can be done indoors year-round, so you can even keep making great compost all winter long for your spring garden.

While you can buy pre-made vermicomposting bins, a vermicompost system like this one is simple to build out of cheap, readily available materials.

Here is a quick tutorial, from TheHomesteadGuru:

Vermicomposting systems are typically small, cheap and portable. Worms are brought in to an enclosed container to decompose organic food waste such as table scraps, and paper products such as shredded up junk mail. The worms turn the waste into a nutrient-rich material that is capable of supporting superior plant growth. Vermicompost enriches the soil, creates an ecologically safe system for food production, and raises the productivity of the land. Enough about how amazing this stuff is, let’s talk about how you can construct your own simple vermicompost system at home.

1Materials You Will Need:

  1. 1 Five Gallon Bucket, with Lid
  2. 1 Round Plastic Louver, 3″
  3. 2 Round Plastic Louvers, 1″
  4. 1 Length of Schedule 40 PVC Pipe – 1″ diameter, 10 3/4″ length
  5. 1 Plastic Spigot
  6. 1 Grit Guard Bucket Insert
  7. 1 Piece of Window Screen

Tools You Will Need:

  • Tape Measure
  • Power Drill
  • Small Drill Bit
  • 1″ Spade Drill Bit
  • 3″ Hole Saw
  • Hand Saw
  • Sandpaper

Step 1: The Lid

Take the lid off of the five gallon bucket and drill a hole in the center using the 3″ hole saw. Sand the rough edges and snap the 3″ round plastic louver into this hole. This ventilation will allow air exchange from the top of the vermicompost system.

Step 2: Drainage

Install the spigot on the side of the bucket, using the instructions that came with the spigot. Try to place the spigot as low as possible while still ensuring that the hole does not extend below the inside floor of the bucket. Also make sure that the spigot is not placed so low that it prevents the bucket from sitting flat on the ground. The spigot will allow you to drain out the valuable liquid that will collect at the bottom of the bucket when the system is in use.

Step 3: Build the Bottom

Using the top of the grit guard as a template, cut a circle shape out of the window screen. The final piece of screen should be the exact same size as the grit guard’s circumference. Insert the grit guard into the bottom of the bucket, and then lay the screen on top. The screen should lay flush on top of the grit guard. These pieces together will act as a false bottom in the bucket, allowing liquid to drain through but preventing worms and their bedding from falling through.


Step 4: Center Ventilation Shaft

Use the tape measure to mark a spot 5 1/2 inches from the bottom of the bucket. Mark the spot on the outside of the bucket, and make sure that the marked spot is well above the top of the grit guard on the inside of the bucket. Drill a 1″ hole here using the spade drill bit. Drill another hole on the other side of the bucket, directly across from the first hole.

Using the small drill bit, drill alternating ventilation holes in the 1″ PVC pipe, as pictured. These holes do not need to be pretty, or exact. When you have drilled the ventilation holes, sand the pipe to remove any roughness. Wedge the pipe inside the bucket horizontally so that the ends of the pipe align with the two 1″ holes on the sides of the bucket. Secure the two 1″ louvers from the outside of the bucket.

Now it’s time to fill and stock your vermicompost system! For tips on how to do this, see the full instructions at TheHomesteadGuru….

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Rose S.

An avid gardener since childhood, I love sharing my passion for gardening with others! I have gardened in a number of different climates and settings, from large fenced garden plots, to tiny patio and container gardens, and I firmly believe that everyone can learn to grow at least some of their own food - no matter where you live. Growing your own food can help you take control of your own health and food supply, and there has never been a better time to get started!

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