Green Versus Brown Compost Materials

Organic Compost Pile

Getting the Right Mix of Compost

An active and healthy compost pile needs the right mix of materials. To turn kitchen scraps and other materials into compost, your composting project needs the proper mixture of brown and green materials. “Browns” are carbon materials. And “Greens” are items containing nitrogen. The nitrogen in the green items gets the decomposition process started and keeps it going. A good compost materials list is just about any vegetable matter. Some exceptions are poisonous plants like poison ivy or poison oak. Notably, black walnut leaves contain a substance that is harmful to your plants. In addition to knowing greens and browns, is creating the correct compost material ratio.

The ideal compost material ratio is a mixture of 4 parts Nitrogen to 1 part Carbon. This ratio maximizes the speed and thoroughness of the decomposition process.

A properly working compost pile is 60% to 80% green matter. A higher percentage of green materials can result in a gooey, messy, ammonia-smelling pile. Too little nitrogen and the compost will not decompose. Or, it will do so ever so slowly. You can adjust the ratio at any time. Keep an eye on what is going on. And, have a variety of greens and browns to add, as needed. 

Tip: Put a wide range of organic matter into your composter. This results in a wider range of essential plant micro-nutrients in the finished product. 

Identifying Green and Brown Compost Materials

Green (Nitrogen) Compost Items

Brown (Carbon) Compost Items

Composting Tip: To speed up decomposition, mix and turn your compost regularly.

Related Articles

People who like this article will also like:

How to Compost – Learn the A to Zs of this topic.

Activators and Inoculators – They help to speed up the process.

Preparing Raw Materials – Shredding and ripping material into smaller pieces.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

    Please support our site. Shop for:

    Scroll to top