World’s Simplest Worm Box

I am cheap and prefer to not spend money on something that can be easily made or created from a repurposed item. I will go without something if an economical yet elegant solution isn’t an option—I know, ridiculous parameters.

Simple worm box #1 (pictured): L 30" x W 18" x 9"), total project cost $28 using some reclaimed materials

Simple worm box #2 (not pictured): L 30" x W 18" x 11" H), total project cost $50 using mostly new materials

On top of it all, I really dislike unnecessary, cheap plastic products and plastics in general. Don’t get me wrong, plastic has attributes that can be useful such as being rigid or flexible, impermeable, clear or opaque, durable, and so on. But, cheap plastic is just plain wasteful and for me completely unnecessary—we can do better! 

When it was time to start worm composting to 107 Garden, it was not an option to purchase a worm bin or factory or canister or tower or convert plastic tubs into a worm bin. I elected for another DIY solution: a simple wood box with holes drilled in the sides. Simple, no plastic. When the bin succumbs to moisture and age I will burn it the old washer drum that's now the fire pit.

The worm box design that inspired the worm boxes at 107 Garden is from Alys Folwer’s Garden Anywhere.

From Alys Folwer's Garden Anywhere

Advantages of a Wooden Worm Box

  • It’s not plastic.
  • Can be constructed with reclaimed wood or repurposed old dresser drawer.
  • Wood tends to stay cooler than black plastic and can be insulating in cooler weather.
  • A shorter profile can allow for functions to be stacked. The two worm boxes at 107 Garden are nestled between raised beds and above the worm boxes on a raised bed bridge (boards that straddle two raised beds) is a place to keep seedlings and small plants. The bridge also shades the worm boxes to help keep them cool in the heat of summer.

Managing a Simple Worm Box

If you are not familiar with worm composting, see the resources listed below for more information.

I prefer to use a moistened mix of coir, peat moss, shredded newspaper, and garden soil in my worm boxes.

  • Make a deposit of food waste. Visually divide your bin into three or more deposit regions. I divide my bins into thirds and make one deposit in each third. The deposit area can be marked with a rock so that you know where the last deposit was made. The worms will move to the next section with a new deposit.
  • Keep in mind that you need two pounds of worms to process one pound of food waste.
  • Make a withdrawal of castings. Simply go to the oldest deposit region and remove castings.
  • The moisture level can be managed by simply adding water.
  • Be sure to raise the worm boxes off the ground with bricks.

Resources

  • Mary Appelhof (1997). Worms Eat My Garbage. Flowerfield Enterprises, LLC. ISBN: 9780977804511. Classic book on worm composting.
  • Alys Fowler (2008). Garden Anywhere. Chronicle Books, LLC. ISBN: 9780811868754. Some very practical composting solutions including wooden worm boxes and compost bins.