This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Question - The application of manure to the surface. At what season is the application most beneficial, and in what condition should the manure be when applied?
E. Moody, Lockport, has always been opposed to surface manuring, as being too wasteful. If it was to be used at all, he would use it in the spring early. It would leach some, and would then serve as a mulch to the plant.
£. W. Sylvester, of Lyons, thought it not best to apply fresh manure to the surface, as it would lose all its ammonia, but would recommend composting by patting muck and manure in alternate layers until the pile is 5 or 6 feet high. This remains until fall, and then is fit for use. It is found to be well rotted, and fit for any use. This compost he used as a surface mulching, forking or dragging it in in the spring.
C. Downing would recommend putting compost manure on the trees in the fall, and fork it up in the spring.
H. N. Langworthy has been using liquid manure made from night soil, and found remarkable effects from it - greater effects, in fact, than he had ever seen before from any other manure. Old bearing pear trees had made a growth of 5 feet in some instances, and in all had grown remarkably.