Gnome, here's a very specific list of the C:N ratios in many common compost ingredients:
There are TWO C:N ratios involved in making compost, and it's good to know which one you're dealing with (warning
: beginning composters STOP reading NOW; you risk being confused by what I'm going to say
OK. You have been warned...
When compost makers discuss the "Carbon-to-Nitrogen" ratio, they are generally talking about the elemental
ratio. All living (or formerly living) things contain both carbon and nitrogen (as well as oxygen and hydrogen). The ideal ratio of elemental carbon to elemental nitrogen is 30:1. However, this is very different from the volume
of what goes into your compost pile/bin, which is much easier to track.
The simple way to keep track of the C:N volume ratio is to put Carbon-intense ingredients (Browns) in at a rate approx. 3 times that at which Nitrogen-intense ingredients (Greens) are added.
C:N Elemental Ratio = 30:1
C:N Volume Ratio = 3:1
The basic site at
is an excellent way of learning more about composting, even though you may have been making it for years. I've read it a couple of times, and still enjoy it!