Given the importance of nitrogen for making proteins, you might think you should aim to use only stuff with the lowest possible C:N ratio as ingredients in your compost pile. This opinion might be reinforced by learning that the microorganisms that do most of the work in the compost pile have a C:N ratio between four and nine (people have a similar ratio).
However, as we'll see (pages 28-29), nitrogen-rich material on its own has some unfortunate implications for the air supply to your compost pile. Moreover, bacteria don't just need a C:N ratio suitable for turning into more bacteria: much of the carbon in their food is simply "burned," or respired, away as carbon dioxide (CO2). In fact, about two-thirds of the carbon consumed by bacteria is given off as CO2, so
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