Compared to brown materials, green compost materials are much higher in nitrogen. Nitrogen is an important element in amino acids and proteins, and is a vital protein source for the compost microbes, helping to speed up the process of decomposition.
Green materials that are very high in nitrogen should be used sparingly, especially fresh grass clippings.
This category consists of any pieces of fruits and vegetables. Most of us have an endless supply of this type of material: potato peelings, apple cores, banana peels, any bits and pieces of uncooked vegetables that would otherwise have gone into the garbage bin! It is best to avoid using cooked vegetables in your compost because oils used in cooking will slow down decomposition and may attract rodents and other animals. One solution for those who wish to compost cooked vegetables is to use a closed plastic bin with wire mesh on the bottom.
Grass clippings are very high in nitrogen. While that may seem like a good thing, and it is, there are also a few things to consider. First, it is often best to leave grass clippings on the lawn where they will decompose naturally and help to feed the soil.
If you do want to add grass clippings to your compost use them sparingly at first, adding a very thin layer on top of a layer of brown materials, or by mixing them thoroughly with other green materials. If they are applied too thickly they tend to form slimy clumps or mats that do not permit air circulation. The mats do not break down very well and and release an unpleasant smelling (but harmless) ammonia gas.
Poultry (7:1), Sheep (16:1), Horse (22:1), Cow (18:1)
Manure is a valuable ingredient in any compost pile. It contains a high level of nitrogen which will help to get the pile "cooking" quickly. It is acceptable to use manure from horses, cows, chickens, rabbits, sheep, goats and bats (guano) in your compost.
Important: Do not use manure from dogs, cats, pigs or humans in your compost pile or in your garden as they can contain harmful parasites and can cause diseases in humans. It is also advisable never to use any fresh manure in your garden unless it has been composted first.
"...would your coffee shop be willing to exchange used coffee grounds for some customer loyalty?"
If you don't have access to manure, don't worry. There are lots of alternative ingredients that are high in nitrogen that will give your compost pile a boost. Ingredients such as grass clippings, seaweed, and vegetable scraps will do the trick!
Coffee grounds are high in nitrogen and really help to heat up your compost. You can compost any kind of coffee grounds and if you use a paper filter just toss it in as well.
Many coffee shops collect their used coffee grounds and provide them free of charge to their customers. Check with your local coffee shop to find out if there is a program in your area. If there isn't, why not get together with other local gardeners and petition the coffee shop that you patronise to start a program. Would your local coffee shop be willing to exchange their used coffee grounds for customer loyalty? You bet!
Coffee grounds can also be used directly in the garden as a mulch for acid loving plants such as Azelieas and Rhododendrons.
"If you live in an area where seaweed is available, consider yourself blessed..."
If you live in an area where seaweed is available consider yourself blessed. You have an almost endless supply of nutrient-rich composting material. The addition of seaweed helps to get a compost pile to heat up due to it's high nitrogen content. Most people rinse the seaweed before adding to the pile to remove excess salt.
Most plants and plant cuttings can be composted including annual weeds without mature seeds, any remains of spent or harvested plants and flower tops collected from deadheading.