Okay, so hear me out…worms are helping to save the planet. Yes, those tiny vermin! 1/3 of the food we eat globally gets thrown away each year, equating to about 1.3 billion tons of food. That’s a lot of food wasted. But what if we could turn that food into the most nutrient fertilizers, which in turn, helps give us more food? That’s why you need the best worm composter, so you can help these small allies change the world!
So, how do you get started in worm composting? Well, you’ll need some red worms. Red worms are best for vermicomposting because they tend to live more towards the surface and thrive at room temperature. You’ll then need some worm bedding. This usually consists of damp shredded cardboard, paper, and leftover food waste, of course.
Here’s a fun, full detailed video of the process and timeline of worms and how they turn your waste into “black gold,” otherwise known as worm-made fertilizer.
Gone are the days of waiting years for your compost. You can have high-quality compost with a worm bin in a few months. And because worm bins are a type of continuous compost bin, you’ll have a constant year-round supply.
But pick the wrong bin, and you might give up before you start. I’ve rounded up the best worm composters on the market to ensure you have a bin full of healthy, happy worms.
These are my top six picks for the best worm composters you can buy today. Plus two extra bins that didn’t quite make the list but I thought were worth mentioning.
1. Vermihut Worm Composter
I love this worm composter because it’s a simple design, easy to setup up, and very straightforward to use! It comes with everything you need to get started.
Let’s go over what you can expect when unboxing the Vermihut Plus:
- User’s manual
- Spigot (put on the bottom to expel liquid waste produced by food waste)
- Spigot cup (place under the spigot to pour liquid waste into)
- Rake (to rake your vermicompost)
- Coconut coir (for worm bedding)
- 5 trays (so you can add up to 5 levels! You can even buy extra to add more)
- Spatula (for scraping vermicompost and worms off the sides of tray)
- Vermicomposting magnet that tells you what food to add and which to avoid
- Enclosure for the feet (fill with water so no ants or insects can enter!)
17″L x 17″W x 33″H
This worm composter is a great size. Not too small, nor too big. You can have it inside, and it won’t take up much space. Best of all, it doesn’t give off any odor! The only thing I would want to add to the Vermihut Plus would buckle on the sides of the bins so they’d lock into place and make it much sturdier.
- Large capacity
- Worm saving tray
- No latches on the side. Worms could escape
2. Worm Factory 360
The Worm Factory is another fantastic option for worm composting because of its temperature regulating ability, and it also comes with a worm ladder. A worm ladder is perfect for any worms at the bottom bin. In most cases, they won’t be able to get back up, but the worm ladder allows them the angle to help them do so!
It also comes with other goodies. Let’s see what you can expect to find when you unbox the Worm Factory 360:
- User’s manual
- Brick of coconut coir
- Shredded newspaper for worm bedding
- Thermometer to track temperature
- Pumice stone (to add more nutrients to compost)
- Spigot, rake, spatula
- 4 trays (you can buy extra and add up to 8!)
- Worm tea catcher
17.95″L x 17.95″W x 14.95″H
A small change that I found surprisingly useful is the redesigned lid. Before, it was just flat, but now it’s dome-shaped and doubles as a holder for the worm trays when you’re harvesting the compost. The legs are also slightly taller to allow for better ventilation.
One thing I really like about this composter is the fact it’s eco-friendly. It’s made in the USA, cutting down its carbon footprint because the bin doesn’t have to travel as far. Also, you can be sure the people who made it have been treated fairly – a big plus for me.
One quirk is that there’s nothing to stop the trays from sinking down into each other. This means they can end up compacting quite a lot, and they don’t stay as evenly spaced as they look in the picture. This isn’t usually a problem for the worms who like to live at the surface anyway. It’s more of a cosmetic issue.
- Made in the USA
- Large volume for a small footprint
- Trays sink into each other
3. Urban Worm Bag
So, this worm composter is quite different than the rest! Instead of stacking bins and having the worms crawl upwards as you add bins, the worm bag is just one big canvas bag. This is perfect for someone that doesn’t want to keep stacking bins. You basically just keep feeding it and you get your castings every so often.
What comes in the box?
- Worm bag
- Verticle and horizontal bar supports
- 3 connectors for bars
26.75″L x 26.75″W x 31.75″H
Add the bedding on the bottom and your worms and organic food on top. As more castings are created, and more food is added for the worms to feed, the worms will continue to reproduce, and they’ll all keep crawling to the bag!
The canvas bag has good airflow and there’s a double-sided zipper on the top and the bottom. When you’d like to get your harvest, you open the bottom zipper, and the vermicompost that has collected at the bottom will come out. If you’ve had any experiences with the first version of this bin, you might have had problems with the zip. Steve listened to the complaints about this and has fixed the problem with this most recent model.
The bag is made from a breathable material, so it keeps the compost well aerated, and you can use the bottom zip to control moisture levels. The bag is strong enough to support over 120 lbs of compost. But it isn’t rodent-proof, so it is best kept inside. As long as you follow the guidelines, the bin won’t smell.
Learn more in my review of the urban worm bag.
- Excellent customer service
- Large surface area
- Lifetime guarantee
- Not rodent-proof
- Not aesthetically pleasing
- You have to build your own structure for the bag
This worm composter is perfect for beginners or anyone who’d like their worm composter inside. It’s a small design that can easily fit on your kitchen counter. I use this one inside and have bigger worm composters in my garage. It makes it super simple to but your smaller food scraps in quickly!
What comes inside the box?
- Cork lid
- Perforated caps for lid
- Food waste container
- Moisture/light/pH level probe
- Fertilizer scoop
17.7” L x 8.7” W x 6.5” H
Biovessel is a modern-looking bin that was made for urban composters. A plant pot holder in the lid allows you to use the compost as soon as the worms produce it. Since the bin is small enough to fit on your kitchen counter it’s perfect for growing herbs in.
The curved tray looks good but also serves a purpose. The shape is based on multiple data points and designed so that the worms can work to maximum efficiency, decomposing your waste as fast as possible.
- Good looking
- Can use the bin to grow plants
- Designed to be efficient
- Great for kids or beginners
- Perfect for indoors
- No way to harvest leachate
- It’s small, so it won’t produce a ton of castings
5. HOT FROG Living Composter
Hot Frog has taken the traditional stacking worm composter and made it stylish. This is why I love this option! The bin won’t look out of place in an apartment kitchen, and you could even use it as a side stand!
What comes in the box?
15 x 15 x 22 inches
Inside the bin, there’s a water retention channel running around the outside of the trays, which collects water and prevents the edges from drying out. You can drain any other excess liquid using the spigot at the bottom.
Some reviews have reported that the valve can become blocked with dead worms that’ve strayed into the collection tray. If you find this becomes a recurring issue, you can fix it by fashioning a worm block out of some leftover plastic.
The composter is made using BPA-free, UV-inhibited recycled materials so it won’t become brittle from sun exposure. The double-walled base and ceiling help to protect against temperature swings. With that being said, I personally wouldn’t be comfortable leaving the Hot Frog outside in the winter without extra protection.
- Water retention system
- Aeration support points
- Worm tea tap can become blocked
6. Hungry Bin Worm Farm Compost Bin
Okay, so the Hungry Bin operates like the Urban worm bag, it’s a continuous flow-through worm farm. As you add more food waste, the worms move towards the surface, and the castings fall to the bottom.
What comes in the box?
- Assembly instructions and a 16-week feeding timeline to help increase the worm population from time of installation
- Owners manual with illustrations and troubleshooting
24″L x 26″W x 37″H
The top of the bin is purposefully wider, giving the worms more surface area to feed on your scraps. This helps to speed up the composting process.
The bin is on wheels, so it’s really easy to move around. This is useful if you live somewhere where the temperature varies quite a bit, and you find yourself having to move the bin indoors.
Hungry Bin has done away with the taps that you see on other models to prevent any issues of blockages. Instead, the liquid drains straight through into a tray on the floor.
- Easy to move around
- Large surface area
- No taps to get blocked
Other options to consider
The worm composters above are, in my opinion, the best worms bins you can buy. That said, I also wanted to give the two options a shout-out as they both offer something unique.
If you live in an apartment and are limited on space,, then check out this 4-tray composter from Quest. It’s small enough to fit under your kitchen sink, so it won’t take up any valuable floor space. It’s also useful for people who don’t generate enough kitchen waste to justify having one of the bigger worm bins.
You can bury this underground bin from Tumble Weed in your garden and skip the step of transferring the compost from your bin to the outside. The bin turns your vegetable patch into one big worm farm. The worms can move freely in and out of the vessel depositing their worm castings in the surrounding soil.
What else do I need to get started?
Once you have the bin, you need a few more things before you can get started:
- Bedding material
- Food scraps
You can’t use any old worms on your worm farm. They have to be red wrigglers which are different from the standard earthworms you find in your garden. If you can’t find any red wigglers locally, I recommend using Uncle Jim’s red worms. I’ve used these worms for years and never had any problems.
For bedding, you can use a wide range of materials, with the shredded paper being one of the best choices. I also like to use coco coir because it comes in compressed blocks, which means it’s easy to store. It’s useful to have backup bedding for when you run out of organic waste materials. You can also use it in your composting toilet as a cover material.
In terms of food, the worms will pretty much eat all your fruit and vegetable waste, as well as any leftover rice pasta, or bread you have. Just like with regular composting, it’s best to avoid meats and dairy because this can cause smells and attract pests (unless you use bokashi).
Another useful tool is a compost thermometer. You don’t need one, but it helps you monitor the conditions within the bin and keep the temperature optimum for your worms.
How many worms do I need?
You’ll see many people say that red wigglers can eat around ½ their weight in food daily. This is technically true, but only likely if conditions are optimal. For most home worm bins, this will be an overestimate, especially if you’re a beginner. Remember the worms also eat their bedding which counts towards their food for the day.
I feed my worms about 20-30% of their body weight daily and find this works well.
As a rough guide, 1000 worms weigh 1 lb, so they will eat 0.3 lbs of waste each day. Say your family produces 3 lbs of waste every day. You’ll need 10,000 worms for your bin. This sounds like a lot! But remember, your worms will reproduce quickly, so you don’t need to buy that many worms. 1-2 lbs of worms are usually enough to start with.
What to look for in a worm bin?
At its simplest, a worm bin is a container with holes for ventilation and a lid to stop the worms from escaping. Most bins are made of plastic and raised off the ground so they don’t attract unwanted pests.
Here are four things I recommend thinking about before you purchase a worm farm:
Ease of harvesting
Worm bins shouldn’t require much maintenance, but about once every 4-6 months, you’ll need to harvest the worm castings. Certain bin designs make this more straightforward than others. There are two main types of bins, stackable and flow-through.
With stacking bins you wait until the bottom tray is complete and free of worms, then you can simply remove that tray. In flow-through bins, the worm castings fall naturally to the bottom of the container while the worms stay at the surface. Generally, you can open the bottom to harvest the compost.
Perhaps the most important thing to decide is how big you need your worm composter to be. If you’re keeping it inside and are limited on space, then make sure to check the dimensions of the product and see if it fits where you want it to go.
Another consideration is how many worms you need and then how much space this amount of worms needs. As red worms are surface dwellers, it’s the surface area of your bin you need to pay attention to.
For the average worm composter, you should aim for 1 square foot of space per 1 lb of worms. Beginners will want to allow slightly fewer worms per square foot.
If you’re familiar with composting, you’ll know it’s essential to keep your bin well ventilated. Your worms need oxygen to survive, and proper airflow also helps stop your worm farm from smelling.
Most worms bins have taken measures to enable adequate airflow. But they tend to be quite conservative on any aeration holes because the more holes in the bin, the more likely it is that worms will escape.
I like to drill a few extra holes into my worm bins to increase ventilation, but I keep mine in a shed, so I don’t need to worry as much about worms escaping as much.
Fruit and vegetable waste is naturally soggy and can create moisture in the bin. A good worm bin should have a way for this liquid to drain out. If you don’t drain excess fluid, you risk drowning the worms.
Lots of people refer to this liquid as worm tea, but this is incorrect. The liquid is actually leachate. You can use it as liquid fertilizer, but it’s not as nutritionally valuable as real worm tea.
If you want to learn how to make real worm tea take a look at my ultimate compost tea recipe.
The best worm composters offer excellent value for money, an environment your worms don’t want to escape from, and make it easy for you to collect the compost.
If you’ve bought one of the bins I recommended, I’d love to hear what you think about it.