A Super Simple Kitchen Waste Composter

Would you like a true dump and forget – no fuss, no muss – way to compost your kitchen scraps directly in your garden?

One of the issues gardeners have when they include kitchen scraps in their outdoor compost piles is that the food often attracts pests, such as rodents, skunks, raccoons, etc.

Indoor worm bins are a great way to compost kitchen scraps, but they take up space that some people don't have, and they require good maintenance to keep the worms healthy and to avoid breeding insect pests inside your home.

Fortunately, there's one way to easily compost your kitchen scraps – directly in your garden!

One of my gardening students, Debbi Richey, created a super simple composter.  Her family calls it the “Worm Cafe”.  She took a 5-6 foot long piece of 4″ wide PVC pipe, and drilled a number of 1/2″ holes at one end.

Creating a worm cafe by drilling holes into a PVC pipe

Cut a piece of 4″ (or even 6″) wide PVC pipe into the length you'd like to use – allowing 18″ to be buried underground. Drill an assortment of 1/2″ holes around the section of the pipe that will be buried.

She spray-painted and decorated the pipe, because she wanted it tall enough to be able to use it by reaching across a fence.  Be sure to use the kind of paint that's designed to stick to plastic.  She then vertically buried the pipe 18″ deep in the middle of her garden bed, with the drilled holes underground.

Feel free to decorate the taller worm cafes!

You can create tall or short “worm cafes” for your garden. Feel free to decorate the taller pipes!

She uses a simple and cheap cap to open and close the pipe, and keep out insect pests.

A cheap and easy-to-use cap for the worm cafe

These cheap and easy-to-use caps are available wherever PVC pipes are sold.

All she has to do is dump in the scraps and walk away!  They decompose in the pipe, with the help of worms. Debbi has noticed that the plants closest to the worm cafe grow more vigorously, as their roots have access to all the nutrients released underground.

It's not necessary to create tall composters. If you'd like less conspicuous worm cafes, you can cut the pipe into 2 foot lengths, and leave only 6″ sticking above the ground. If your household creates a lot of food scraps, you might want to have several of these composters scattered around your garden.

The main limitation of this method is that it stops working during the winter, when the food can't decompose in the cold, and the worms go deep into the soil to hibernate for the winter.

Thanks, Debbi, for sharing your unique composting method with us!

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Leave a Reply 9 comments

Cynthia Payton - April 21, 2015 Reply

This particular pvc worm farm sounds great and easy, but my concern is the grub worms. Do you have a problem with that and if yes, how is this problem controlled?
Thanks, Cynthia

    Debra - April 21, 2015 Reply

    Hi Cynthia! From what I understand, grubs are root-eating larvae of beetles. I’ve not found them to be a problem with composting.

Alice - May 27, 2015 Reply

Won’t the pipe fill up?

    Debra - May 27, 2015 Reply

    If you add too much food too quickly, yes, it could fill up. It does take some time for the food to decompose. However, if your household produces a lot of food scraps, you could just add a few more pipes in additional garden beds. This system also tends to stop working during winter, when it’s too cold to decompose.

diane macadam - July 2, 2015 Reply

This is a great idea. I can foresee a day when this could be used (many pipes) throughout a garden. Tell your student she’s right on……

Lynn - October 20, 2015 Reply

This is a great idea! Will use in 2016 and put one in middle of 5 pepper plants, 4 tomato, middle of 8 cucumber plant tree and my cherry tomato tree. Thanks Debby and Debra will have 2016 pics on FB RVB’s group

    Debra - October 20, 2015 Reply

    I’m looking forward to seeing your photos next year! Have fun!

Terry - March 24, 2016 Reply

This is ingenious ! Definitely incorporating into raised beds year. Have tried composting before with abysmal results.

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