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  • Naomi Stephens | Permaculture Designer

Setting Up a Worm Composting Bin in Small Spaces (Quick Guide)

Updated: Mar 3

Are you an urban city dweller or just looking for a way to compost in a small space?

My very first worm composting bin was about the size of a shoe box, and it sat quite happily in my tiny studio apartment, converting my kitchen scraps and organic waste into nutrient-rich compost for my plants.

In this blog post, I'll guide you through setting up a worm composting bin in a small space.

Choose the right container

Worms need air and moisture to thrive, so the container you choose should have plenty of ventilation and drainage holes.

Many plastic storage bins work, but a more eco-friendly option would be to use a wooden box. The container should be shallow, no more than 12 inches deep, to keep the worms close to the surface.

Add bedding material

The first step in setting up your worm composting bin is to create a comfortable environment for the worms. Worms need a bedding material that is moist and fluffy, such as shredded newspaper, leaves, or coconut coir. The bedding should be about 6 inches deep and moistened with water until it feels like a damp sponge.

Add worms

The type of worms used in worm composting are called red wigglers (Eisenia fetida). You can order them online or find them at a local bait shop.

Start with about 1 pound of worms for every square foot of surface area in the bin.

Gently scatter the worms on the bedding material and cover them with moistened newspaper or cardboard.

Feed the worms

Once your worm composting bin is set up, it's time to feed the worms.

Worms will eat most types of organic matter, such as fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, finely crushed eggshells, and shredded paper.

Avoid feeding the worms meat, dairy, or oily foods that attract pests and create odors. Bury the food scraps under the bedding so they don't attract flies or other pests.

Harvest the compost

Depending on the size of your worm composting bin and how you feed your worms, you could have worm castings in several weeks or a few months.

Just look for the rich, dark soil. The easiest way to harvest the compost is to stop feeding the worms for a week or two.

The worms will migrate to the upper layers of the bedding material, leaving the finished compost behind. Scoop out the compost and use it to enrich your soil.


Setting up a worm composting bin in a small space is easy and rewarding. Not only will you reduce your organic waste and create nutrient-rich soil, but you'll also have the opportunity to observe the fascinating process of worm composting.



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