Also, folks, thanks for all the links!
As for checking the bait shops, do you think they'd know the difference between the different kinds of worms?
If I make an under-the-sink bin, what do you guys think of the idea of including nightcrawlers in the compost as well, to break the compost down further?
You are Welcome. I am guessing you have not watched that lecture yet or you wouldn't be asking that question. Seriously it will answer all your question and you can get up and running with worms in no time. http://mediasite.online.ncsu.edu/online/Viewer/?peid=ed5c695a835f435197db7f5f33bd733c1d
Regular earth worms you get from out side will not work. You will end up with dead worms. Some of Those worms are deep vertical burrowing worms. Red wigglers are shallow horizontal burrowing. You wont be able to tell which kind is which Eisenia fetida = red wigglers you will need 1 pound of worms to get started which is about 1000 of the little buggers. If you buy them in a bait shop it ends up being expensive because you need 1000 worms to get started. Also you may not get the right species. They will eat about 50% of their body weight per day. Temps need to be between 59-77F for happiest worms if they get below 32 or above 100 they can die. The happier they are the more they eat and faster they reproduce.
Moisture needs to be about 80% regular compost should be about 60%. if you pick up bedding and squeeze no more than a drop or two should come out. Oxygen requirement Aerobicity cut holes in your bins up top They don't like light ph if you wanted to check it should be more than >5 and less than <9 Ammonia content of waste should be low Salt content of waste should be low.
If the worms are happy they eat a lot and reproduce faster. When they get stressed they group up ball up and then try to get out of the bin. Acidity is the main thing to watch for so you would not want to add citrus or chicken manure or any highly acidic or salty food. You can feed them kitchen scraps & plate scrapings coffee grounds animal manure agricultural crop residues yard trimmings scrap paper organic byproducts from industries sewage sludge. They will eat any thing that is organic from clothing to poo . The smaller the bits the faster and easier it is for them to eat it.
Suitable Earthworm species for Vermicomposting
Eisenia fetida (red wiggler)
Eisenia andrei ( Red Tiger)
Eisenia hortensis/Dendrobaena veneta (European Nightcrawler)
Perionyx excavatus (blue worm)
Edrilus eugenae (African Nightcrawler)
The most common we use here in the states is Eisenia fetida or the common name Red Wiggler
My bin I made is just a rubbermaid type container that was under $6.00. Drilled /cut four 1 inch hole along the side at the top. Added bedding then added the worms. The pound of worms was about $22. If the worms are happy they wont try to get out. Again if you do it correctly it wont stink and you won't get any liquid out of it. So you most likely can get started for under $35.
You can put your bins any where that the temps can be maintained. kitchen apartment balcony garage office the list is endless.
What you remove from your bins is a combination castings and compost. Castings are worm poo but there will be large undigested matter that is called worm compost.
If you watch the video there is a few min of the class housekeeping before Rhonda's lecture starts. I have never found any info that was so complete and to the point. Easy to follow and she has good pics with her slides. I am sure there are other ways and advice. This is simple and works for me. Just thought I would share what I learned and how I do it. Hope that helps at least someone.
Oh to make the bedding you can shred paper Junk mail works great. Or just rip it up into small pieces. Soak in a bucket to wet completely. Then drain and wring out with your hands. Break it apart after wringing and try to fluff it back up. Then add in a few handfuls of soil mix lightly add worms. You really don't want to use more than 40% compost in your garden After adding that much your crops can start to have a undesirable effects. Adding 10% -40% ideal The best growth you will see is by adding 10-20%.