How to build a bath tub worm bin

Be sure to read my post about Composting with Worms. With a little extra time and effort, you can build this bin basically for free if you have all the proper resources.

12 EASY Steps to Building a Bathtub Worm Farm!

Preparation: 24 hours for sealants to dry properly
Building: 2 hours
Cost: $44.99
Skill Level: Moderately Easy

Tools you will need:

Hammer

Saw

I am a hand tool sort of guy. There is nothing like putting your own energy into any job that you need to get done. If you would prefer to use a skill saw, go right ahead!

PVC Cable Saw

The cable saw uses friction to cut through the the PVC like butter. I prefer the cable saw, but you can use the PVC pipe cutter instead.

Flat bar (optional)

A flat bar can make the job really easy when trying to remove nails from salvaged wood.

Materials you will need:

Salvaged Bath Tub $25.00 USD

I called a couple bath companies and found a “bath tub skirt” (a mold to go over an old bath tub) that a customer decided they didn’t want after it was custom made for their particular tub. Instead of this bath tub being thrown out, I was able to utilize it for a cozy worm home.

Recycled 2x4's for building frame FREE: Legs Four 32" Length: Two 64in Width Two-33in.Cross Bars: 2- 33in.

While I was driving I found these on the side of the road waiting to be picked up by county municipalities. Instead of allowing a great resource go to the dump and spending money I decided (after a little nail removal with a flat bar) these would work perfect. NOTE: These measurements were for my bath tub, make sure to measure to fit your bath tub.

2in shower drain $2.00 USD.

A shower drain is only needed if your bath tub doesn’t already have a shower drain installed. Since I used a bath tub skirt I had to drill a 2inch hole into the bath tub in order to fit this drain.

Underwater sealant $8.63 USD

Used for sealing the shower drain to the bath tub. Allow 24 hours for a proper seal.

Note: This exact product may not be necessary. This sealant is used specifically for sealing anything that will stay underwater, which my shower drain will be since i am using a valve. This product is not made up of friendly ingredients and can only be used up to 48 hours after you open it. I would recommend doing some research to find a better, less toxic, sealant. I had my worms before my bin was built, so I  had to settle for what ever my local store had.

Drain pipe materials $5.63 USD : 1in. Ball valve $5.15USD, 2in. to 1in. pvc reducer $.48 USD, 1in pvc pipe FREE

These drain pipe materials will help you to collect the leachate (great plant food that is rich in microorganisms, and can be added to enhance a compost tea) and to make sure your worms do not drown inside the bin.

PVC primer and cement.

In order to connect the drain pipe materials together, you need to create a weld by simply applying the PVC primer and cement.  I am not including the $8.00 USD cost because these were left over from a different job. Make sure to allow 2 hours for a properly sealed weld.

Moist Cardboard

The worms will need a nice place to rest and lay their eggs. Moist corrugated cardboard works perfect for this, as they love wiggling their way through the “veins” of the cardboard.

Peat moss

Worms love peat moss, which is why I used this old bag of peat moss and added compost for my worm’s bedding material. You can also use cut wheatgrass trays as that is mostly made up of peat moss.

Compost

The compost was mixed with peat moss for a high nutritious worm bedding.

Drainage rock

The drainage rock will allow an even drain throughout the worm bin. I was able to gather some rocks from an old drain field that is not in use anymore. You could use planks of wood (see suggestion below) if you don’t have access to the drain rocks.

3inch Nails $3.25

I recommend to use 3inch nails if you choose to not use any wood smaller than a 2×4. (ie: If you are using 1×4’s, 1×6’s or any other 1 “by”  you are going to want to use a 2 1/4 – 2 1/2 inch nail)

Tarp for a cover

A tarp can work well protecting worms from the sunlight and heavy rains storms.

Construction

Shower drain installed in bath tub

1.Installing the shower drain:

  •  Clean all the surfaces that the sealant will be applied to as instructed by the product. (I disregarded it and just used water. Oops! 😉 )
  • Apply the sealant as recommended.
  • Insert shower drain into bath tub hole.
  • Clean up excess sealant.
  • Allow to dry/cure according to product directions. (My underwater sealant took 24 hours to cure)

Priming and gluing drain materials

Step 2: Connect drain parts together

  • Cut your PVC pipe into one 6inch and one 3inch piece.
  • Prime all ends that you are connecting with the PVC primer.
  • Glue  your 6inch PVC pipe to the pipe reducer (if you needed to use a reducer).
  • Glue the other end of your 6inch PVC pipe into the ball valve.
  • Glue the 3inch piece into the other end of the  ball valve.
  • Make sure to wait two hours for a proper weld before applying liquid.
Drain materials installed to bath tub.

Drain materials installed on bath tub

Step 3: Connect drain materials to bath tub

  • You will connect your drain materials to the shower drain that is already connected to your bath tub.
  • Prime the shower drain and the other end of the reducer (if reducer is not used, prime the 6inch pipe).
  • Glue shower drain to the reducer (if reducer not used; glue shower drain to the 6inch pipe).
  • Do not apply running water for two hours.

Building the frame

Step 4: Build the frame

  • Measure the bathtub’s long and short sections (my long section was 64inch and short section was 33 inch).
  • Cut four 2×4’s the same size as the short section (two for the short section, two for cross bars).
  • Subtract 3 inches from the long section, and cut two 2×4’s the new size. (61 inches for me. Once we nail the short section onto the long section, the length will be the original size. A 2×4’s actual size is 1.5″ x 3.5″).
  • Cut four legs to 32 inches.
  • Nail or screw the short section and long section together.
  • Nail or screw the legs to the inside of the frame. Make sure to nail or screw legs to the short section and long section for proper strength.
  • Nail or screw the cross bars for support 10 inches from the bottom of the legs.

Finished frame

Step 5: Flip frame over and bring it to its final resting ground.
Fully constructed and ready to be filled.
Step 6: Insert bath tub into frame.

2 inch layer of drain rocks placed in the bottom of the bath tub

Step 7: Add a 2 inch layer of drain rocks to the bottom of your bath tub. (You can also choose to use multiple planks of wood that run the width/short section)

Cardboard bedding layer

Step 8: Rip up moist cardboard and use as the bottom bedding layer where the worms will sleep and lay their eggs.

Peat moss and compost bedding

Step 9: Bedding
  • Make a mixture of peat moss and compost approximately 6-8inches deep. (You can use soil from wheat grass trays too).
  • Water down this mixture so that it is like a moist cake. Too much water and the worms will not have enough oxygen and too little water the worms will dry up.

Red wigglers

Step 10: Welcome the worms into their new home.

  • A good housing ratio is: per 1lb of pure worms, you should have 1ft squared of space.
  • Worms will double every three to four months, so make sure to plan for this. Some ideas are to set up another bin, add them to your garden, give them away or sell them to friends, neighbors, and clients!

Worm Food

Step 11: Feed your worms!

  • Worms love horse manure, fruits, and vegetables. You can also feed them dinner scraps such as pastas, cooked roots, or breads. Make sure you do not use animal products as they will rot and attack predators.
  • Do not feed your worms hot peppers, onions, oranges, meats. One rule of thumb is if it can hurt your eyes, then it can definitely hurt the worms.
  • Important tip: Keep the food only in the center of the bed and leave the sides food free. Worms are really sensitive to heat, if your worm food starts composting and heating up to high temperatures the worms could be killed. By leaving an area empty of food, such as the sides, the worms can escape and they will be happy and safe.
  • Cover the food with burlap sacks, newspaper, or even cardboard so there aren’t a ton of flies and other insects being attracted to it.

Finished worm farm! (with a temporary cover)

Step 12: Goodnight worms!
  • Worms do not like light, so make sure you provide a cover for them so they can safely come up to the surface.
  • Adding a pitch to the cover will promote air flow and water runoff during a rain storm so the worms will not end up drowning.
Take a moment to let me know if this step by step pictorial was helpful by rating and sharing this post. Please, feel free to ask me any questions about building your own worm farm!
-Jason
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7 responses

    • You can still learn to be handy right now, there is always room for a new skill to learn. My goal was to make this post so anyone can build a worm bin with no handy experience what so ever. I’ve always been a hands on sort of person. Working in construction, roofing, landscaping, machinery, and farming definitely helped make my hands useful 🙂

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