Making a Wormery with old paint buckets

Easy Home Greening, Low Carbon Creativity, Permaculture

For a long time we have wanted a wormery. They are fantastic systems for turning vegetable waste into beautiful nutritious soil. They are small and you can locate them near the house.

But I’ve never owned one, so didn’t have experience of them. But I thought – we have loads of resources, I’m sure I could make one.

I used two large (and slightly differently sized) clean paint buckets with lids, a stanley knife, drill, some pieces of dowel and some old fleece.

And this is what I did.

Wormery diagram

1. This is the bottom bucket. Two rows of holes were drilled about an inch from the bottom.

2. A large hole was cut at the bottom with a stanley knife and holes drilled in the lid, spaced so that any excess liquid would be directed into a tub underneath it.


3. A couple of layers of fleece were put l underneath the lid.

4. The container was turned upside down, so that the lid became the bottom.

Wromery 4

5. This was lined with cardboard and newspaper

6. And placed onto bricks

Wormery 5

7. The top buckets had holes drilled into the bottom.

8. And dowels pushed into holes to keep the containers together.

Wormery Dowel

9. Worms from the compost heap were put into the bottom chamber

10. The top container was lined with newspaper and slightly rotting veg, torn up newspaper and a cover of newspaper added to the top

Inside of Wormery

And hey presto! One wormery.

October 2021 – Looking in the bucket to see what has happened…


  1. The bottom bucket has completely turned into an inch of beautiful worm castings and seems very deep and empty now.
  2. There was some worm wee in the bottom tub and I fished out a (live) worm. Need to check if the fabric is still intact and stopping the contents dropping into the tub.
  3. There were some worms in the bottom chamber but non were visible around the edge and between the two. Does the tub need some modification so that the worms can travel more between the two chambers?
  4. There are plenty of worms in the top with the green waste but I need to investigate further underneath it to see what / if there are worm castings at the bottom of that top chamber

The next stage:

  1. I’m planning on adding 10% to my seed compost next year so after further investigation will leave it in the buckets until the beginning of next year.
  2. I want the worms to remain active over the winter so need to do some insulating of the containers or moving it into the shed for the winter
  3. Also considered wrapping (not covering the holes) it with some insulating material
  4. I want to build a structure around it to make it look more attractive and perhaps create something that will be multifunctional in itself


The Design Process

Below is my thinking process, using a framework called CEAP (Collect information, Evaluate the information, Apply Permaculture principles and ethics, Plan the solution)

Summary of Design

Key implemented learnings as a result of doing the design process: 

  1. The site location dictated the size (small outside the back door)
  2. The resources strongly influenced the design
  3. There’s more than one way to stack a bucket…!

Framework: CEAP

Tools used: 5W1H (what, where, when, who, why, how), PMI (plus, minus, interesting), Functions / ethics tool, mind mapping


The wormery design has been really successful. It’s easy to move around if we need to get behind it, easy to feed food into and is secure. So far we have not tried to replenish it, taking out some of the soil and haven’t had opportunity to dismantle it. I’m a bit nervous about hurting the worms when I take the dowels out. I’ll update this part when I do.

The downside is it’s quite ugly. I’m thinking of making some kind of construction to go round it…


Having already decided that I wanted a wormery I didn’t give thought to whether it was a good idea. It was only on reflection that I made that assumption. As a result the processes and tools were all skewed in that direction. Now, I think it might have been better to do a PMI check on why we wanted a wormery. I think we’d have still gone ahead, but I’m reminded that I rushed more quickly towards the solution than was perhaps wise.

This was more for ‘me’ than for ‘us’. Although my partner didn’t comment either way on whether he thought it was a good idea or not, I know I was the driver to get it. A client interview could have been helpful in that. 

As a result of going through the design process, CEAP, it revealed that I wasn’t convinced that making a wormery was as good idea as I thought it was when I embarked on it. It also showed that the learning how to do it was a strong motivation. 

Observing our resources as part of the 5W1H exercise was really helpful and thinking about that in the context of where the wormery would be placed. 


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