Worm composting directly in the garden bed simplifies the process of vermicomposting. The worms live, work, reproduce, and make worm castings in the garden bed, right where they are needed. 

Vermicomposting Made Easy_ In-Bed Worm Composting

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How does vermicomposting work?

Worm composting – also called vermicomposting (‘vermi’ = worm) – is the process of using worms to compost food scraps into vermicompost. Worms eat up to half their weight each day in kitchen scraps, and the byproduct of all that eating is worm castings. (Worm castings = GARDEN GOLD!)

During the digestion process, the worms secrete chemicals that break organic matter into nutrition that is readily available for plants. Worm castings, along with the chemicals secreted during digestion, make up vermicompost.

Vermicomposting Made Easy_ In-Bed Worm Composting

What are the benefits of worm composting?

  • Vermicompost improves soil texture and structure, and aerates the soil. 
  • Vermicompost increases the water-holding capacity of soil. 
  • The nutrients in vermicompost are immediately available to plants
  • Worm castings contribute to faster plant growth and higher production.
  • Worm castings are dense in microorganisms and nutrients.
  • The chemicals in worm castings help prevent “damping off” and other diseases.
Vermicomposting Made Easy_ In-Bed Worm Composting

What is the easiest way to make a worm composting bin?

A vermicomposting bin built into your raised beds is the easiest way to make a worm composting bin. No need to harvest the worm castings or move the worms inside for extremes of hot and cold temperaturesThe worms live, work, reproduce, and make worm castings in the garden bed, right where they are needed. 

Vermicomposting Made Easy_ In-Bed Worm Composting

How do I make an in-bed worm composter?

Supplies:

  • 2 gallon bucket and lid
  • Shredded cardboard
  • Kitchen scraps
  • Worms – redworms or red wigglers are preferred. The earthworms typically found in the garden aren’t suitable for vermicomposting.

Tools:

  • Drill (for drilling holes)
  • Dremel (to cut off bottom of bucket)
Vermicomposting Made Easy_ In-Bed Worm Composting

Directions for making an in-bed vermicomposter:

Use a drill and a large bit to drill several holes all around a 2 gallon bucket.

Vermicomposting Made Easy: In-Bed Worm Composting

Using the Dremel, cut off the bottom of the bucket. We used this drill bit

Vermicomposting Made Easy: In-Bed Worm Composting

Dig a hole in the garden bed the size of the bucket.

Vermicomposting Made Easy: In-Bed Worm Composting

Place bucket in the hole.

Vermicomposting Made Easy: In-Bed Worm Composting

Fill the bucket with shredded cardboard, and wet it down. Allow cardboard to absorb moisture overnight.

Vermicomposting Made Easy: In-Bed Worm Composting

Add 300-600 worms to the bucket.

Vermicomposting Made Easy: In-Bed Worm Composting

Put the lid on the bucket.

Vermicomposting Made Easy_ In-Bed Worm Composting

Begin feeding worms – see worm feeding details below.

Vermicomposting Made Easy_ In-Bed Worm Composting

A note about sizes:

My raised beds are 15 inches deep, 4 feet wide and 8 feet long.

I used 2 two gallon buckets in each bed. If your beds are smaller or larger, adjust size and number of beds accordingly. 

What do worms eat?

Good for feeding worms

Avoid feeding worms

coffee grounds, grains, tea bags, vegetables, fruit, eggshells, paper

dairy, oily food, spicy food, meat, citrus, salty foods, fermented foods, glossy paper

 

Vermicomposting Made Easy_ In-Bed Worm Composting

Tips for feeding worms:

  • Add equal amounts of greens and browns each time you feed.

    Greens

    Browns

    fruit scraps, vegetable scraps, bread, pasta, coffee grounds, eggshells

    cardboard, mulch, dry leaves, shredded paper

  • Make sure worms have eaten previously-added food scraps before adding more. Plan on feeding worms about once per week.
  • Cut or blend food before adding to bins. Smaller pieces of food break down faster and speed up the composting process. 
  • After adding food scraps (greens), cover with browns to avoid attracting fruit flies
  • Remove large pieces of uneaten food. Pay attention to what the worms are eating and not eating. 
  • Interior of the bin should have the moisture consistency of a dried-out sponge. Spray lightly with a hose if necessary.
  • Replace lid on bucket after feeding
Vermicomposting Made Easy_ In-Bed Worm Composting

Want more information about composting? This article shares 10 simple steps to get you started. 

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Vermicomposting Made Easy_ In-Bed Worm Composting
Vermicomposting Made Easy_ In-Bed Worm Composting
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14 comments on “Vermicomposting Made Easy: In-Bed Worm Composting”

  1. Do you do anything with what’s inside or do you just keep repeating the process? Like do you take the compost out to use? What about the worms? Thanks

    • I keep repeating the process and adding green/brown material. I don’t take the compost out it use it. The worms will carry the castings out into the bed.

    • Red wigglers can live up to 4 or 5 years. The worms should survive and keep reproducing themselves indefinitely if conditions are right.

  2. I don’t even use the buckets anymore. I pick an area of garden and dig some of soil out, throw in a little cardboard and food and have a small piece of plywood to cover area. Lift the board to feed, stays cooler than plastic. They just go to town and then I can easily move feeding area to different parts of garden months later. No more messy buckets to deal with. Worms go where ever they want in garden as well….everywhere I dig I have tons.

  3. Super! I’m excited. I use the square foot garden method Angela uses. Been composting in bins during the winter, but I’m going to try Joyce’s method now that its gardening time. Think I’ll try using 5 gallon bucket lids to cover the holes. Thanks to both of you!

    • Perfect! Good luck. I’m really enjoying having a simple way to compost directly in the beds. I think you will like it as well.

    • A friend gave me mine, but shredded paper or dried leaves would also work if you can’t find the cardboard.

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