Composting requires both green and brown materials to create good organic soil amendments. Think of it as a balanced diet for composting agents.
Brown components help things stay balanced. If your compost heap or worm bin has too many green components you will have a smelly, slimy mess. Green components, mainly food scraps and grass, decompose quickly releasing ammonia which smells like rotten eggs. Brown components slow the process down and feed good bacteria.
Brown components are things like paper, sawdust, sunflower, corn stalks and husks, shredded newspaper, cardboard, dryer lint, dry grass, dead leaves and small amounts of wood ash.
Mulching microbes eat green composting components. Without enough green the pile will decay too slowly. Green components include fresh grass and leaves, herbivore manure, eggshells, vegetables, fruit, rinds, coffee grounds and other food scraps. Fish, meat and dairy products should be excluded from your pile as these are not condusive to effective decomposition.
Layering nearly equal parts with a little more brown than green will help you achieve balance in your compost. Well balanced compost will be constantly hot due to all of the microbial activity within the pile. Balance your greens and browns and you’ll have organic soil in no time.