Vermicompost Right in Your Garden - Make a Worm Bucket

Earthworms in natural compost in a bin

Tommy Lee Walker / Getty Images 

I am a big fan of vermicomposting. It can be done indoors or out, and it's still fun, even after all the time I've been composting with worms, to watch my apple cores and coffee grounds turn into amazing, nutrient-rich vermicompost. If you're looking for an even easier way to compost with worms, consider installing a worm bucket right in your garden bed.One of the more work-intensive parts of keeping a worm bin (depending on the style of bin you have) is harvesting the vermicompost. For example, the bin I have is just that: a bin. There are no levels for the worms to move to. When I want to harvest the vermicompost, I can either move the fresh food and bedding to one side of the bin and wait for the worms to make their way over and out of the finished vermicompost, or I can dump the whole thing out on a tarp and sort through it by hand.

But if you use this method, you're essentially cutting out that middle step, because your worms will be doing their composting work right in your vegetable or flower garden bed. Here's how to do it.

Making a Worm Bucket for Your Garden

  • Get a plastic 5 gallon bucket with a lid. These are cheap at most home centers. If you have a bucket from cat litter or laundry detergent, these will work well too.
  • Cut the bottom out of your bucket, and, if you have a large drill bit, drill several 3/4" to 1" holes all around the bottom quarter of your bucket. Doing these two things allows your worms to come and go as they please -- which is exactly what you want. If you aren't able to drill holes, it will still work, so don't let that stop you.
  • Place your bucket in your garden bed, sinking the bottom quarter of it down into the soil. Now you can start filling the bucket with kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, crumble egg shells -- anything you'd add to a traditional worm bin. Put the lid on, and you're done.

There are two ways to handle how you're going to get worms to do the work in your bucket vermicomposter. You can install it and wait for the worms that are already in your garden to find it and get to work. This is what I do, and it works really well.

The other thing you can do is order some red wigglers and put them in the bucket with the food scraps. If you use this method, you can add more food scraps, because you'll have more worms to feed. Keep in mind, though, that if you live in an area that freezes, your red wigglers most likely won't make it through the winter, and you'll have to order more next year.

What's the Point?

The whole point of this particular composter is to take work off of you, the gardener. You add your food scraps to the bucket, keep it covered, and end up with better, more fertile soil, thanks to the worms. They make their way into your bucket to eat, then head back out into your garden bed where they deposit castings, adding nutrients to your garden and improving the soil. Anything that improves my soil and turns waste into something useful, with no work on my behalf, is a win in my book (lazivores, unite!)