Top Dressing means to place compost or fertilizer of some kind around the top of the soil surrounding a plant. A benefit of this is long term “feeding” as the material will seep into the soil slowly with rain and water over a lengthy period of time.
My preferred top dressing is rotted cow manure. Yep – good old fashioned cow poop is one of my secrets to success. By using a compost or cow manure it serves two functions: 1) fertilizer; and 2) mulch. Both extremely beneficial to your organic garden.
Due to the heavy clay soil in the Illinois area, I find top dressing a particularly effective way to amend soil and fertilize organically. Due to its low values of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, dairy cow manure is ideal as both a top dressing and in compost IF IT IS ROTTED. If it is not composted yet and is still fresh, you might burn your plants. NEVER put fresh manure on a plant unless you want to kill the plant.
To “top dress”, simply utilize rotted manure as you would mulch; leave an inch or so of breathing space around most plants being careful not to smother plants during installation.
This year I top dressed with Cowsmo Compost* – it was supplied from RW Dairy in Wisconsin and is sold in bulk locally. You can contact Cowsmo directly to have them bag or supply it to you in other forms. John Rosenow, owner of Cowsmo Compost came out himself to help shovel for the day – what a champ!!
Above is a video of our adventure together that cold spring day – – my plants will be so happy for John Rosenow, Christeen Garcia, and Jenny Lund’s help. Thanks and a shout out go to the best pooper scooper team ever!
*Special note – The Cowsmo Compost was supplied at no cost in exchange for the above video of the composting experience. Top dressing is something I do regularly in the garden and Cowsmo’s no cost product did not influence my technique or opinion in any way in relationship to top dressing.