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In order for microorganisms to properly break down your compost pile they require a certain ratio of Carbon to Nitrogen (C: N). It is also possible to have a nervous breakdown worrying about precise ratios and recommended temperatures. There is a multitude of information on techniques, systems and recipes. I think the best approach is to keep in mind the optimal numbers and basic techniques then experiment on your own.

Everything that you put into the compost pile has a C: N ratio. For example, leaves are high in carbon with around a 60:1 ratio and coffee grounds & grass clippings have more nitrogen with a 20:1 ratio. In general, the C: N ratio that you want to achieve in your compost pile is approximately 30:1. The key is to balance the ingredients by alternating layers until you get close to that ratio.

There are a couple of indicators that you have the right ratio of C: N. After a week the center of the pile should be hot to the touch (around 130 degrees Fahrenheit). If the pile is not hot then you probably have too much carbon. Another clue that your ratio is off is a very stinky pile. Excessive nitrogen causes excessive smells from the pile. Additional carbon is the solution here.