Thanks everyone!! What [b]GREAT [/b]posts! And very helpful too. I'm still in the learning and very beginning phase so all of this info is gold.
I'd love to get the Vermiculture Technology book but...that's a steep price tag. For now I'm just gonna keep it on my wish list.
I was unaware that the amendments I noted in my first post wouldn't help the worms any. I knew that the amendments would help the soil but I wondered if it had any effect on the compost via some interaction with the little reds. But apparently, they won't notice it but as a soil amendment, it's fine. But likely not worth the expense.
For now I am going to a local juice bar every day and the guy there - AWESOME guy, is giving me all his pulp. YAY. For right now I'm putting most of it in my garden via a post hold digger, a small hole, the pulp, then with the dirt put back on top. I know that in the wild, if you bury it they will come. I figured this would be a fun thing to try in my soil building experiments. I know that the reds and other critters can break down food pretty fast and I'm counting on this to help my garden. I'm burying the pulp about every 10" in the ground until I run out of garden.
I have no access to manure that I can trust. Most people I know do not use antibiotics or hormones or anything like that, but it's the feed I worry about most. I have no idea if what they're feeding their animals are GMO or not. I have no room for rabbits or anything so manure is just not an option for me.
I have grown mushrooms indoors and currently grow them outdoors, and I know I have a lot of mycelium all over the place. I lined all the beds of my garden with huge logs, and there's mushrooms all over the place. I bury my mushroom stems in the worm bin too, thinking that since worms and mycelium are such good buddies, this could only help my worms. I'm pretty sure that by doing this, mycelium is all throughout in my bin (hopefully). Besides that, I purposefully have habitats all over the yard - mostly lining the fences, just for mushrooms and critters. Mushrooms are the most amazing things on the planet...
When I am ready the guy who owns the juice bar said he'd be more than happy to separate out the citrus and things worms don't like. So when my small worm bin starts getting more worms I'll be able to give them a variety of fresh pulp. Right now it's just garden scraps. I think I'm on the right track but you know, reading about this is all good and well. Doing it and observing the inputs and outputs is another matter.
Mostly, I want good compost to go in my garden. That's my main goal. I hadn't though about selling any of the worms. Really, I just can't imagine me having that many since I'm just now starting out. In time I may consider that if the reds multiple as much as others have written about. Secondly, I am always on the look out for a second source of income so if I enjoy this enough and I can get good enough at it, perhaps doing it as a side (small) business is not out of the question. But before I even think about that I have to get good with a single bin first.
I have a 19 gallon rubber maid bin, drilled a bunch of holes all around - top/bottom, put a good layer of shredded newspaper on the bottom, some good soil on top, some grit, the reds, and I have been feeding them as needed. I give them more food when the food I gave them last time is gone. Here's what I've noticed so far.
1) The paper in the bottom compacted a lot more than I thought it would. Sometimes when I scrape around in the bin to bury food, the paper comes up in hunks that are not super hard packed, but more dense than I thought. This isn't a problem, right?
2) The bin seems to have good moisture content. I'm getting almost no run off underneath it and it's moist but by no means damp. I'm wondering if it's moist enough, actually.
3) When I put the reds in their new home, I noticed they were checking out out the inside of their new bin quite a bit. But they kept doing this for maybe 4 weeks after i put them in there. I made sure they had food, nothing was stinking or smelly, and the moisture seemed ok. But it seemed like there were a lot of worms trying to get out. I still do not know why. It's much less so now but it's 2 months later, give or take.
4) Even when the temps dropped into the mid 40's, I opened the lid to check on the little dudes and I noticed a bit of condensation in the bin. But the soil was moist - certainly not wet. I wasn't expecting this. I think I'll have to watch temperatures when it gets warmer. Right now the bin is sitting on a wooden deck, covered from sun all day long, and protected from rain and wind.
5) I'm grinding up everything I fed them because I read they can digest stuff better if it's small. I bought, "How to Start a Worm Bin" by Owen Henry (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/150894704X/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
) and found this really helpful.
Now all I'm waiting for is for the reds to go forth and multiply.
Should I mix up the dirt in the bin? To give it oxygen and keep the bin from becoming anerobic?
Should I check the moisture level to make sure it's moist enough? If so, how?
I know it's winter right now and we've had some cool evenings here, but the worms are not multiplying as much as I think they should have. Any ideas why?
Thanks everyone for your comments. This has been remarkably helpful. Thanks for sharing and for your generosity with your knowledge.