If you don’t have the time, patience or perhaps the space to manage a traditional hot compost pile, another solution could be vermicomposting.
By using worms, you can speed up the process and even do it indoors. Here are our picks for best worm composter.
Best Worm Composter Comparison Chart 2019
Worm Factory 360 WF360B Worm Composter
Worm Factory DS3BT 3-Tray Worm Composter
VermiHut 5-Tray Worm Compost Bin
Hungry Bin Flow-Through Worm Farm
Urban Worm Bag Worm Composting Bin
HOT FROG Living Composter
Tumbleweed Worm Cafe Bin
If you are new to worm composting, you might be wondering what it’s all about. What is worm composting? Why would you want to do it? And how do you choose the right one? Let’s have a look at these questions now.
What is worm composting?
Essentially, you feed your waste to worms and after they eat it, what comes out of the other end is known as “worm casting” – basically worm poop – something that is full of valuable nutrients that your flowers and plants will love.
Once a colony of worms is established, you just continue to feed them household waste, including fruit, vegetables, pasta, bread, coffee grounds, tea bags, eggshells and even paper and cardboard. Once they’ve processed it, you can use the resulting castings as fertilizer.
Think of it as a partnership – you provide the worms with a home, keep them warm and feed them. In return, the worms dispose of your household waste for you and provide you with potent fertilizer for your garden. Sounds like a good deal!
Why buy a worm compost bin?
Worm castings are such a powerful fertilizer that they are produced industrially and sold – and they don’t come cheap. One advantage of keeping your won worms is that you can produce as much of it as you need for free.
Another advantage is that it is much kinder to the environment if the worms process your waste into fertilizer instead of sending it all off to be poured into landfill.
Finally, if obtaining free fertilizer and breaking down you waste naturally are not good enough reasons, many people find they actually enjoy worm composting. Worms might not be as cuddly as a cat or dog, but people can grow attached to their colony of worms.
It’s also a great way to teach kids about waste management, sustainability and caring for our planet – more great reasons to start keeping worms.
7 Facts to look before buying worm compost bin
If you’ve decided to take the plunge and invest in a worm composter, you will probably be wondering which one to go for. Although worm composters all work in basically the same way, they may have different features. Here are some of the key points to look at.
One aspect that may be important to you is whether your chosen composter can be expanded at a later date should you wish to increase the size of your colony.
Many tower-style composters can be expanded by adding one or more extra trays on top. This might be useful if your family grows and you start creating more waste or simply if you need more worms to deal with the waste you are already creating.
On the other hand, some types of composter are one-size-only, and the only way you can scale up your composting operation is by buying a whole extra composter. This means before you buy you should consider whether you might need to increase your capacity later on.
2. Ease of maintenance
Most worm composters are easy to set up – in fact, most of the time, you simply need to put in the bedding layer, add the worms and start feeding them.
However, once your worms are established, you also need to know how much time you will need to spend looking after them each week and how much work it will be.
With some models, there is nothing more to do than throw your waste into the top and remove the castings and leachate from the bottom when necessary.
Other versions, especially tower-style composters with lots of layers, will require you to recycle the “floors” of the tower in a cycle. While this might not require so much work, you might end up finding it a chore after you’ve done it lots of times.
3. Ease of harvesting
An important aspect to look at is how easy it is to harvest the castings and “worm tea”. This is where commercial composters have an advantage over basic home-made composters in a bin.
If you use a bin, you will have to remove everything each time you want to reach the castings at the bottom. This will mean disturbing the worms and even sorting through manually to pick them all out.
This is why commercial composters have a big advantage – because they are designed to make collecting the castings and draining the “tea” much easier. When buying one, you should think about how the castings are harvested, how easy it is and how little it disturbs the worms.
Drainage is an important part of the composter’s design, too. This is partly about how easy it is to siphon off the leachate, but also about how the leachate is drained to regulate moisture levels.
The best composters have a special tray at the bottom to collect this nutritious “tea” and allow you to drain it off quickly and easily using a spigot that is there for the purpose. This is also another point worth checking out when considering which composter to buy.
Remember also that the ideal worm habitat should be moist but not soggy. If it’s waterlogged, the worms can drown – but if it’s too dry, they won’t like it and may even die.
Another important factor to consider is the capacity of the composter – and also whether it can be adjusted.
Most composters tell you how many worms they can accommodate. The general guideline is that red wiggler worms can process half their body mass of waste per day, so a pound of worms can break down half a pound of scraps per day.
From this, you can calculate how much waste your household generates each day and how many worms you will need to deal with it all. This should help you choose the right composter.
Some composters can also contain varying volumes of worms and waste, according to your needs. For example, with a tower-style composter, you could use only two layers instead of all three or four if you don’t need to dispose of large amounts of waste.
6. Size and footprint
The size of the composter is obviously a very important element in choosing, especially if you want one for inside your house.
Tower composters tend to have smaller footprints by stacking vertically. If space is limited, this type might be the best pick for you.
7. Indoors or outdoors?
You also need to know whether you are going to do your composting indoors or outdoors. Some are designed for outdoor use, some are for indoors only and others can be used indoors or outdoors.
Also, consider the climate where you live. Even if you want to compost outdoors, you may have to bring the composter inside during the cold months of winter to prevent all your worms from being killed by the cold.
The Best Worm Composter Reviews Of 2019
1. Worm Factory 360 WF360B Worm Composter (Our Top Recommended)
This is a multi-layer worm composter designed for use either indoors or out. It features a thermo-siphon air flow system that both helps accelerate the composting process and eliminates odors, meaning you could even keep this in your kitchen.
It also has a very small footprint, which also makes it especially suitable for indoor use. It measures only 18” x 18” and can be kept in a kitchen, a garage, on your porch, in your garden – or just about anywhere you have space.
It includes several outstanding features. Firstly, the whole system is designed to be vertically expandable. If you need to add extra trays, you can buy them separately and place them on top. This will give you extra capacity in your composter without taking up any extra space.
Another great aspect of this composter is that it is very easy to harvest the worm castings without disturbing the colony. You just remove the bottom tray, harvest the castings and place it on top. The worms then migrate up through the wholes to reach the new food you add.
The whole system is very easy to set up right from the box and will only take a few minutes. It comes complete with an easy-to-follow instruction book, and once ready, will only require minimal maintenance. You only need to spend 15 minutes a week looking after your worms.
It includes worm bedding as well as mineral rock dust to improve the quality of the castings and help the composting process. It also comes with a DVD, along with the basic tools you need to look after your worm colony.
Finally, at the bottom of the tower, there is a special collector for “worm tea”, the moisture that drains down. You can then drain it off using the spigot, mix it with water and spread it on your lawn or flowerbeds to help them grow.
There are a couple of downsides, too. This worm composter can attract fruit flies, so you need to be careful to keep them out. Also, due to the design, the trays can be heavy when you have multiple layers and you need to rotate them.
This is a well-built, well-designed worm composter that is ideal for beginners and experienced worm composters alike. A recommended product.
- Four trays can be expanded to up to seven – allows your worm colony to grow
- Easy to harvest – simply remove bottom tray, remove castings and place on top
- Built-in “worm tea” collector – spigot at bottom
- Virtually odorless – it can be used indoors or outdoors
- Very easy to set up – then requires little maintenance thereafter
- Can attract fruit flies – depending on what you put inside
- Trays can be heavy to rotate – need to take all trays off to reach the bottom one
2. Worm Factory DS3BT 3-Tray Worm Composter, Black
This is another worm composter from the same makers as the one we’ve just looked at above but in a slightly smaller model with dimensions of 16” x 16”, making it suitable for households with even more limited space.
It comes with three trays, but is fully-stackable, allowing you to add an extra four trays (not included) for a maximum of seven. In this way, this compact vertical tower allows you to make the most of whatever small space you have at home.
The system is simple. You start off by placing worm food and bedding in the bottom tray and add the worms. When the worms have worked through the first tray of food, you simply add another on top and the worms migrate upwards to the new food source.
You then simply repeat the process until the whole tower is in use. Then you remove the bottom tray, which by this point is full of worm castings, harvest the castings, place the tray on top and begin the cycle again.
This is the perfect way to access the castings since it means you don’t need to disturb the worms or sift through the castings to remove any stray worms – they will already all have moved up.
Each full tray of castings weighs only 12.5lbs, making the harvesting process effortless.
There is also a “worm tea” collector at the bottom that collects the nutrition-rich leachate that drips down. It can easily be drained using the spigot, giving you a liquid fertilizer you can use on your lawn or flowers.
This kit is also supplied with a DVD and a simple instruction book that gives you all the information you need to start worm composting successfully.
However, there are also a couple of negatives, too. We found that the worm tea collector and spigot at the bottom are not particularly effective. Also, the lid doesn’t close tightly, so it can attract fruit flies.
As with the larger model above, this worm composter provides a handy and environmentally-friendly way to dispose of your household waste. It could be the right pick for anybody who wants to use worms to compost their waste but who has limited space at home.
- Extra compact size – makes it suitable for even smaller homes
- Can be used both indoors and outdoors – you can use it all year round
- Stackable design – allows you to add extra trays later to expand your worm colony
- Easy to access worm castings – simply remove the bottom tray to harvest
- Practically odorless when done right – makes it especially suitable for indoor use
- Spigot at bottom is not so effective – doesn’t give much worm tea
- Lid doesn’t close fully – can attract fruit flies
3. VermiHut 5-Tray Worm Compost Bin, Dark Green With Free Worm-Saver Tray
This worm composter is a vertically stacking model that allows you to keep the maximum number of worms in the minimum amount of space. Its dimensions are only 16.5” x 16.5”, making it perfect for even the smallest of homes or yards.
Due to the tower structure, even with such a small footprint, this composter provides living space for up to 10lbs of worms. Since 1lb of worms breaks down ½lb of waste daily, this means this composter can deal with up to 5lbs of waste every day.
It is extremely easy to set up. You simply place the bedding, composting worms and household waste in the bottom tray and wait for the worms to do their thing. Once they have worked through the first tray of waste, you simply add another level and the worms migrate upwards.
Once you have added the fifth level, the whole system becomes self-sustaining. As long as you continue putting waste in at the top, the worms will continue breaking it down, and the worms will reproduce by themselves, meaning you won’t ever need to replace them.
There is also a special tray at the bottom to catch the nutritious leachate that drips down, allowing you to drain it off using the spigot located there for this purpose. You can then use the leachate on your garden to encourage the growth of your flowerbeds or lawn.
This worm composter has one particularly neat feature that has been added to the newest version – the bottom level has a special “Worm Saver” tray to stop the worms falling out of the bottom and into the liquid that collects there.
Unfortunately, with this worm farm – as with several other models – it hasn’t been designed to keep fruit flies out. The ventilation holes at the top are too large, inviting the fruit flies right in. Also, the instructions in the booklet are a little vague, especially for beginners.
This is another well-designed worm composter that allows you to effectively deal with household waste. It is odor-free and is the ideal option for anyone looking for a way to compost with worms, inside or outside and even when space is limited.
- High capacity – provides housing space for up to 10lbs of worms
- Worm saver tray – prevents worms from dropping out of the bottom into the “tea”
- Odorless – can be used inside your house or in the yard
- Small footprint – means it is suitable even in places where space is at a premium
- Easy to look after – requires minimal maintenance once set up
- Too easy for fruit flies to infiltrate – too many large holes for ventilation
- Booklet a little vague – especially for worm composting rookies
4. Hungry Bin Flow-Through Worm Farm
If you are looking for a rugged and highly-efficient worm composter for your yard that will allow you to break down your waste in the greenest way possible, the Hungry Bin Flow-Through Worm Farm should be of interest.
Its large volume can accommodate enough worms to deal with up to 4lbs of household waste every day quickly and conveniently. Your household waste will swiftly be transformed into worm castings and “worm tea” that can then be used on your garden as effective fertilizers.
This composter is manufactured in New Zealand and features a unique patented design. It provides the ideal environment for your worms, allowing them to work their way through large amounts of waste each day.
Note, however, that this composter works best in temperate climates that are most amenable to the worms. In hot climates, you will need to shade the composter while in colder climates, the composter will need to be stored in a garage or basement during the colder months.
One of the advantages of this system is its simplicity. There is no messing around with trays and layers, you simply put the waste in at the top and remove the castings and liquid at the bottom.
This means you don’t need to worry about constantly recycling trays as they fill with castings and work their way down a stacked tower. This might be more suitable for people who prefer to avoid too much physical exertion.
The composter itself has a tough and solid design, and it also has sturdy wheels and handles, allowing you to move it around with ease. It even looks good, and you will be able to store it away discretely in a corner without it detracting from the attractiveness of your yard.
One thing that is less welcome is the price tag. This worm composter is one of the more expensive options – although it is a high-quality product and still good value. Another problem is that the worms can escape from the top, so you have to ensure they don’t want to.
Overall, if you are looking for a reliable, simple and durable outdoor worm composter, this could be well worth a look. It is simple to use, requires little maintenance and will provide you with a steady supply of nutritious fertilizer for your garden.
- Large volume – holds enough worms to break down 4lbs of waste per day
- Clean and easy to use – castings and “worm tea” collected in trays below
- Sturdy and solid build – tough handles and wheels make it easy to move
- Provides ideal environment for worms – perfect conditions for composting
- Looks good – attractive design will not be an eyesore in your yard
- Lid doesn’t prevent worms escaping – the trick is to make sure they don’t want to
- Expensive option – pricier than other worm composter but high quality
5. Urban Worm Bag Worm Composting Bin Version 2
The Urban Worm Bag is specially designed for urban dwellers who don’t have a yard for their vermicomposting operation. For people looking for an elegant and ecologically-friendly solution to the problem of household waste, this could be just the answer you are looking for.
The bag itself is made of durable 900D Oxford fabric that helps keep the compost odor-free, while the frame consists of iron supports and reinforced connectors. This setup is built to last – it is so sturdy that the manufacturer backs it up with a lifetime guarantee.
Compared to some other worm composters on the market, this one is incredibly easy to use. Setting up and getting started takes no more than five minutes, and after that, maintenance is minimal.
All you have to do, once your worm colony is established, is simply unzip the top and throw in your household waste. To harvest the castings, simply unzip at the bottom and let the finished product drop out into a container (you need to supply the container yourself).
This has the advantage that you don’t need to constantly remove and rearrange stacks of different levels as you do with tower-style composters. This can help you save a lot of time and also avoid disturbing the worms – and happy worms work harder and reproduce faster.
The zippers themselves are also marine-grade and corrosion-resistant and are attached with reinforced stitching.
Apart from the ease of use and maintenance, the other advantage is the volume this composter can hold. It is large enough to house up to 8lbs of worms, allowing you to dispose of up to 4lbs of household waste per day.
On the other hand, bear in mind it does have measurements of 26.75” x 26.75”, so it has a slightly larger footprint than tower-style composters.
One slight issue with this composter is that it is heavy when full, and it can be a challenge for one person to harvest compost alone. Also, the bottom zipper can be hard to close – again, especially for one person working alone.
Overall, this is the perfect solution if you want to keep a worm composter in your urban apartment – as long as you have enough space to accommodate the larger footprint.
- Extremely easy to use and maintain – requires minimal attention once started
- Rugged and sturdy materials – built to last
- Large capacity – can hold up to 8lbs of worms and break down 4lbs of waste per day
- Attractive design – won’t look out of place in a stylish modern home
- Great value – comes at a very reasonable price
- Bag can be heavy to lift for harvesting – better for two people to do it together
- Bottom zipper can be difficult to close – again, especially for one person alone
6. HOT FROG Living Composter
The Hot Frog Living Composter is one of the most attractive worm composters available. You could even keep this in your living room and guests probably wouldn’t even notice that there were several pounds of worms in the corner steadily munching away at your waste.
Odor is minimal, too. If your guests didn’t know you had a worm composter going, it wouldn’t be the smell that gave it away. For these reasons, this is another ideal choice for worm composting in an urban setting.
However, it is well-built and rugged too and could just as easily be kept outside. The “living” section is made of BPA-free, UV-inhibited, recycled polyethylene that won’t deteriorate in the sun. The urethane-sealed hardwood maple legs are also designed to resist the weather.
If you do set it up in your yard, the housing also provides a certain amount of insulation against excesses of heat and cold, helping protect the worms and keeping them happy and productive. This is an important consideration since happy worms will give you the best results.
This is the second-generation model of Hot Frog worm composters, and one of the additions is the new moisture control channels inside.
Rather than draining all the moisture directly down into the collector at the bottom, a certain amount of moisture is kept in the channels to ensure the worms’ bedding retains just the right amount of humidity.
Any excess of water does drain down to the bottom, however, and this nutrient-rich “worm tea” can be drained off at the bottom, combined with water and spread on your garden as a potent fertilizer.
It is extremely easy to set up and start off. As with other tower-style composters, you begin on the lowest level and continue adding waste. When the first level is full, you begin with the next layer, and the worms migrate up into the higher level through the angled migration channels.
And now for just a couple of negatives. We found that the manual is pretty minimal – we would have expected to find more information about vermicomposting inside. Also, this unit would be improved by a screen to prevent dead worms from blocking the drainage section.
Overall this is a functional but also attractive composter for someone who loves the idea of recycling household waste but also wants something that has a stylish look. Recommended for city dwellers and those living in the countryside alike.
- Very stylish design – will look great anywhere in your home
- Suitable for indoor or outdoor use – can be used in urban or rural environments
- Moisture control channels inside – prevents the worm’s bedding from drying out
- Aeration support points – allows 360° flow of air, keeping worms happy
- 40 migration tunnels per level – allows worms to move up easily
- Instructions in manual minimal – would be helpful to have more details
- Drain section needs a screen – as it is, it can become blocked by dead worms, etc.
7. Tumbleweed Worm Cafe Bin
When it comes to simple and effective worm farms that can be installed both inside and out, the Tumbleweed Worm Café Bin is another winner.
The kit consists of everything you need to start your worm colony, including three housing trays, one collector tray for the casting and a spigot for draining the leachate.
It also comes with a coir bedding brick as well as a reference book that explains the basics of worm composting. In fact, just about the only thing that doesn’t come with it is the worms themselves.
It is very well built and benefits from solid and sturdy construction. We like the fact that it is made from 100% recycled plastic. Worm composting usually appeals to the kind of person who wants to help try to save the planet, so it makes sense to make it from recycled materials.
Another nice touch that we liked and that we haven’t come across in other models is that it is resistant to flies and ants. The lid and legs are designed to keep other creepy-crawlies out, which is good for you and also good for your worms.
It is incredibly easy to set up, and as long as you provide the right bedding, temperature and food for your worms, the colony will have everything it needs to thrive. Your worms will continue to break down waste and reproduce as long as you feed them and keep them happy.
Harvesting the castings is easy and doesn’t require you to disturb the worms. It’s also simple to drain off the nutritious “worm tea” that collects at the bottom. You can then use this to fertilize your garden as required.
One of the only problems with this product is that you can’t buy extra levels, meaning there is no scope for expansion. It is also not vermin-proof, so if you keep it outside, you will need to make sure your worms aren’t attacked by mice or rats.
This would be another great option for someone who likes the idea of keeping a colony of worms in a tower-style composter, either in the house or in the yard. If you are looking to start off with worm composting – or need to replace an older composter – this one is worth a look.
- Strong and stable – this is a worm farm that is built to last
- Extremely easy to set up – comes with everything you need but the worms
- Made from 100% recycled plastic – doubly good for the environment
- Fly-proof lid and ant-proof legs – keeps other bugs away from your worms
- Leachate collector with spigot – easy to drain the nutritious “worm tea”
- Can’t buy additional levels – doesn’t allow for expansion
- Not vermin-proof if kept outside – mice and other pests may be able to get in
Good Options For Ecological Waste Disposal
As you can see, whether you want to compost indoors, outdoors or a combination of both, there are worm composters that allow you to do it. By enlisting the help of worms, you can dispose of household waste ecologically, all while creating natural fertilizer for your garden.
My name is Peter Weeks, Writer of The Daily Gardener. Gardening has always been my passion, nothing gives me quite the satisfaction that feeling the soil sift through my fingers does. Give me a spade, a shovel, and a rake, and I can happily while away the day transforming a patch of land into a beautiful oasis. To me, gardening is life. It’s not a career. It’s not a job. It’s something that I truly love doing. It’s a way of life, a passion that I’ve no intention of ever giving up.