Eileen suggested that I start a topic on wormbins and worm composting, in the 'Tips' Forum. I hope I found the right forum. I currently have three wormbins going, and plan to set up two new ones soon, one in the office of Real Change (Seattle's 'street newspaper'). My first bin was a 14-gallon plastic "Worm Habitat" that cost me $32 plus shipping; #2 and #3 are 10-gallon styrofoam picnic totes that cost $5 each, which are wonderfully easy to poke airholes in and are working out great. I also have three larger plastic tubs I bought at Goodwill for $3 each that will become wormbins as soon as a friend drills holes in them for me. Two of them will stack together; the third is probably coming down to the office to be the Real Change wormbin. Worms need darkness, moisture, air, and some minimum amount of space. The first and most basic mistake I made when I started was to order my worms and my wormbin at the same time. I thought that if the worms came before the bin, I could keep them alive for a few days in the box they came in. Do not try this. Worm bins should not be very deep -- unlike in composting, you do not WANT a worm bin to heat up. What they do need is surface area; at least one square foot for each pound of worms. I would recommend two square feet for even a pound of worms, because those little suckers multiply. I found some 10-gallon rubbermaid tote boxes at Goodwill for a couple of bucks each. They would have made perfect wormbins if somebody hadn't stolen them before I could punch holes in them. If you can find several small boxes like that, all the same size, they will work better for you than one big bin. You can stack them so that the worms can migrate out of a box when they've filled it up with compost, and you can harvest without picking through live wrigglers. My 14-gallon "Worm Habitat" has three clusters of pin-prick sized holes, and that is apparently sufficient air. I punched the much smaller styrofoam boxes with about 60 holes each, from 1/16" to 1/4" diameter. Some people say that larger holes should be screened so that bedding doesn't fall out and worms don't escape. My own experience is that worms will not try to escape unless something is wrong in the bin. The great outdoors is too bright and too dry to attract them. Give them all the air you can without drying them out. Many people just fill their wormbins with moist shredded newspaper; that is quite workable bedding and your worm will be fine in it. I like to give my worms two to three inches of mixed soil and compost at the very bottom, then six to eight inches of mixed shredded paper. This was my setup in the first bin that lived, and I'm now compulsive about doing it the same way every time. I just want to assure you that *you* don't have to do it exactly the same way. Do toss in at least a handful of dirt to provide grit, and a handful of compost to provide microorganisms that help the worms break down their food. I mix some shredded newspaper and leaf litter into the dirt layer, both to provide food and to keep air channels open. I also mix in some bone meal, and add a pinch more bone meal with each feeding. Worms need calcium to breed, and lots of calcium means lots of breeding. They also need grit in their tummies to help grind their food. I started the first box with three inches of soil and eight inches of paper. Two months later it is filled with over eight inches of almost-compost -- it still has some undigested food and paper in it -- and there is room for only a couple of inches of paper on top. When I have a new bin ready, I plan to lift out a section of this bin the size of half the new one, then fill the empty sections of both bins with paper. I will feed on the "old side" of both bins until it is finished compost, then start to feed on the other side until all the worms migrate over there and I can "harvest." If I had a drill of my own, I would make holes in the bottom of my "Worm Habitat," even though the manufacturer didn't think it needed it. It is very tricky keeping the top moist without letting the bottom get soupy. Once a week I dig down to see how the bottom is doing, and if it seems too soupy I stuff a handful of dry paper down there. There are always some worms even down in the soup, fat and sassy, even though I tell them that the experts say that's too wet for them. So I guess the lesson is, try to keep your wormbin at optimum moisture level -- described as 'a wrung-out sponge' or 'a damp mop' -- but as long as MOST of the bin is at that level, don't fret too much if a little bit of it is "too dry" or "too wet." The worms will go where they like it. The main danger to letting your bin get too wet is "anaerobic bacteria." Those are the germs that make garbage stink so very bad. Worms can't eat food until it starts to rot, but they only get along with aerobic food-rotters. Anaerobic food-rotters make them sick. Your wormbin should smell like the dirt in the garden. If it starts to smell like the bottom of your garbage pail, your worms will start to die, or to migrate out of the bin (and then die, because it's too bright and dry out there). If the bin starts to stink your worms are not doomed, if you act fast. Take out some of the food, stir up the whole bin, and leave it open until the moisture level is back down to 'a wrung-out sponge' and the foul odor has blown off. All that does not mean you should hover over your worms. Worms are very sensitive to vibration, and if you poke and prod around in the bin every few hours, you might be classed as a predator and they'll try to escape. The first time you stir up the bin, you might find a worm or two hanging on the sides the next time you open it. Stir around in there for a minute or so, about once a week, and the worms will get used to you -- as you will get familiar with them. I know I'm not the only one here who raises worms -- so, what advice do the rest of you want to pass on?