It’s spring, the birds are chirping, the weather is warm like a nice warm blanket in the morning, and the smell of blooming flowers is everywhere. This is the perfect time to make a worm tower. Worm castings and worm “tea” made by red wriggler worms living in the worm tower are great as natural fertilizers for your vegetable garden or flower garden. They are also an excellent fertilizer for container plants. Forget about those chemical fertilizers you find at big box stores. It’s better if you make your own, organic fertilizer using your worm tower.

Materials You Will Need

  • 3 five-gallon buckets (food grade)
  • 1 bucket lid
  • Safety goggles
  • Gloves (optional)
  • Drill
  • An 11/64 bit or 3/16 bit (depends on size of the worms)
  • Red wrigglers worms (50)
  • Kitchen scraps
  • Shredded newspapers (black ink) or other shredded papers


The worm tower consists of a bottom bucket (#3) to hold worm castings and worm “tea”, a middle bucket (#2) to hold worms and soil, and a top bucket (#1) to hold kitchen scraps and shredded paper to feed the worms.

Drill holes in buckets #1 and #2. Bucket #3 has no holes. Depending upon how large your red wrigglers are, use a drill bit that makes holes large enough to allow the worms to easily move back and forth between buckets #1 and #2.

Once holes are drilled, lay down a couple of sheets of black ink newspaper or pieces of cardboard in bucket #2 and add the worms. Place soil on top of the worms and fill the bucket with soil so that the soil will touch the bottom of bucket #1 when stacked. This allows the worms to move from bucket #2 up into bucket #1 to feed.

Bucket #1 is where you will throw your kitchen scraps, shredded plain paper, or shredded black ink newspaper for worm food. When adding brown material, such as paper and dried leaves, make sure to also add green material, such as kitchen scraps and green plant material. You need both moist and dry material to feed the worms. Do not use fatty kitchen scraps, plant material with pesticides on it, or colored newspapers.

Stack your prepared buckets 1-2-3, with 3 on the bottom. Top with your lid. Viola, you have a worm tower! The worm tower can be kept outside in a shady location.

This is a fun project to do as a family or with a youth group. It teaches children how to care for nature and about the wonders of the world. You will be amazed how quickly the worms will recycle kitchen scraps and paper into castings and worm “tea” to use as organic fertilizer for your plants.

By Kelyee Ledesma
Kelyee is a master gardener in Yuma, AZ. She has a website and blog at

Photo 1  Kelyee Ledesma
A worm tower consists of a bottom bucket that holds the worm castings and worm “tea”, a middle bucket for soil and worms, and a top bucket to hold kitchen scraps and shredded paper to feed the worms.

Photo 2 Kelyee Ledesma
Three buckets are all you need to make your own worm tower.