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making a vermicomposting bin out of a 5 gal bucket

Fuquay Varina, NC(Zone 7b)

Hi-I have a project to do with my Master Gardener group where we are trying to make a vermicomposting bin out of 5 gallon bucket. You see-one of our members can get as many of them as we want and we are trying to keep costs down. I have only seen bins made out of the rectangle shaped containers but we can't afford those. We are making these for door prizes for a Tri-County conference we are hosting in Oct. Any opinions or thoughts on this would be most appreciated!

Edinboro, PA


I remember reading a complete article about using very clean five gallon buckets. I would guess you would go by the same principals you would using the bins. If I recall they were experimenting on using the buckets without holes in them. I would not fill them to the top with bedding and make sure there was ventilation.

Wake Forest, NC(Zone 7b)

I think you have to have drain holes near the bottom or it will get soggy. The veggies you put in all have moisture, esp. watermelon & cantelopes. I guess if you keep a lot of shredded newspaper in it, you could balance the moisture with the evaporation?

Fuquay Varina, NC(Zone 7b)

I think you are right pbyrley-I mean the 5 gallon buckets certainly aren't IDEAL since they are so tall but if there are enough drainage holes in the bottom then I think it will work-thanks for commenting!

Elkhart, IA(Zone 5a)

I saw a video on you tube and they were using buckets with holes all over it and on the bottom. they put a thick layer of peat moss on the bottom and then added the shredded moist paper ect.. before adding the worms. the Peat moss is super dry and it takes quite abit to get it moistened. When they were ready to change buckets they simply put more peat into the bottom of a new bucket (with holes all over the sides and bottom) added new bedding and food for the worms in the new bucket and then put the old bucket with the worms into the new bucket and the worms go through the holes in the bottom into the new bedding. Seems simple enough and I'm going to try it. : )

Elkhart, IA(Zone 5a)

Oh yea, they also put cardboard (dry) cut to fit the bottom of the bucket before they added the peat. It held the peat in and then when the peat and the cardboard gets wet the worms start to compost both of them down.

Fuquay Varina, NC(Zone 7b)

Thanks IowaAnn-I will check out that video!

Granite Bay, CA

I have been using a 5 gallon bucket for several years for my worms. I drilled several more holes in the bottom and sunk the bottom about 6 inches in the ground. Now I just put my scraps in the top and cover it with an old piece of burlap. When the bucket is about 2/3 full I empty it onto a piece of plastic and wait for the worms to head into the bottom center. Then I take the wormless dirt out. Keep doing this until it's just a bunch of worms and they go back to the tub. The tub is located near a sprinkler so the worms are always moist. My only problem is occasionally I get some maggots in tub. Disgusting as they are, they must have a job to do as well. They don't seem to do any harm and the local frogs are happy so I am too. I am not fanatical about my worms although I was at the start. I put all the right dirt and paper and kitchen waste in . Now I don't worry so much.They are thriving so I must be doing something right. If they are moist and have something to eat and a nice dark place to live they are happy.

Granite Bay, CA

By the way, some of them might escape through the bottom but the majority are staying where they have it good.

Wake Forest, NC(Zone 7b)

OGRODNIK, thank you for your experience report. I have been pondering on how to maintain my worms in a bucket environment and your report gives me confidence to try the bucket rather than buy a Rubbermaid tub.

I had to saw down the large oak tree that shaded my worm "pile" and this Summer has been hard on the remainder of my worms which I started with in 2008.

BTW, the 5 gal. buckets are, I imagine, the 5 gal. buckets available at Home Depot (orange buckets) or Lowes (silver buckets). They cost about $2.95 each. I will use silver as it would remain cooler but shade is better.

Wake Forest, NC(Zone 7b)

Because so many people pay big bucks for their worms, there always seems to be a "fear" that the worms will escape. Worms will only escape if you fail to provide a healthy environment. Then, if you don't allow them to escape, they will just die and smell bad.

Granite Bay, CA

The "bucket" can also be the large black planting containers, just add more holes I also did what IowaAnn suggested and had the buckets and put another bucket on top of the first when the first was getting full. Most of the worms traveled to the top bucket but a few did not want to leave home. I just found having several buckets on one level worked better for me since I could hide them behind some of my plants. That way they were accessible but shaded and pretty much out of site.

Arlington, MA(Zone 6a)

many restaurants have 4-5 gal buckets for the taking. just ask at any you regularly frequent, and you can probably score some. check curbs/alleys on trash/recycle day, too.

Land O' Lakes, FL(Zone 9b)

I wonder if you could cut an opening down the side, put the lid back on, and use the bucket horizontally. Since the redworms seem to prefer the first handful of inches towards the top, that might work better.

With the bucket positioned normally, it seems like it would get pretty cramped and compacted -- Making it harder for worms to deal with fluctuations in temperature, humidity, etc.

The reason so many people use the rectangle containers is probably for getting a high amount of surface area -- though not so spread out that your worms rarely see one another. You still need baby worms, after all! :)

This message was edited Feb 8, 2012 5:50 PM

Wake Forest, NC(Zone 7b)

Hi, just don't forget: if it isn't too wet and isn't too dry and isn't too hot or too cold and you put some veggies in, the redworms will do ok.

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