Green plant matter includes: lawn clippings, old vegetable vines, weeds that haven't gone to seed, hedge clippings, vegetable and fruit skins and trimmings.
Dry plant matter includes: fallen leaves, straw, small twigs, cornstalks, and black and white newspaper.
To make your compost:
1. Combine your ingredients in a compost bin (I use a Compost Tumbler, which works well in the suburbs). You want your mixture to include both green and dry materials. To speed up the composting process you can chop or shred the materials and add compost inoculant (available from most organic gardening sites).
2. Moisten the pile with the hose, but don't saturate it. You want it evenly moist, but not sitting in water.
3. Turn the pile at least once a week. I usually turn mine every few days to keep everything well mixed. This allows air to move through the pile so the microbes get enough oxygen to break down the materials quickly.
4. Allow the compost to cook. You want the pile to get nice and hot (I've had mine up to about 120 degrees) in order to kill any pathogens and weed seeds. Check the pile regularly, especially during hot weather, and water as necessary to keep it moist. In about a month you can start checking for finished compost. When it's ready to be used in the garden it will be dark, moist, and crumbly. It won't smell rotten, but will actually have a sweet earthy odor.
Happy gardening! :-)
-Michelle of CreativeCritters