Successful composting involves balancing nitrogen and carbon-based materials (brown leaves and woody materials and green grass or food waste) with water and oxygen.
The carbon component (the brown stuff: dead leaves, woody materials and dried brown grass) should constitute 75% of the compost pile.
The remaining 25% should be the nitrogen-rich component (the green stuff: fresh grass clippings, fruit and vegetable scraps).
The organisms that make compost require a warm, moist environment. The pile should be as moist as a wrung-out sponge, but not dripping wet. Let rain replace moisture, and add water during dry spells. A cover helps retain moisture in hot weather.
Compost critters need oxygen, just as we do. Lack of oxygen will slow down the composting process and cause odors.
What to Add to Your Pile
Shredded Paper (low grade)
Vegetable and Fruit Scraps
Wilted Flowers, Small Prunings
Yard Trimmings/Old Plants
What Not to Add to Your Pile
Ashes and Charcoal
Fats, Grease, and Oils
Meat, Fish, and Poultry (including bones)
Non-organics (plastic, metal, glass, etc.)
Treated Wood (or any materials containing strong preservatives or toxins)