Compost/Fertilizer plans for next spring
I'm trying to plan out my compost / fertilizer additions for next year, so here's some background. I'm in Southern California, zone 8-9. Last spring was my first time gardening, so I built a 6x4 raised bed and filled it with a "planting mix" from a local nursery. They put a scoop in the back of my pickup, so I don't know what exactly was in it, but there's a lot of fine bark/wood chips, compost, some sand, loamy soil, etc. It's pretty fast-draining, and seems low in non-woody organic matter. I have a compost pile going, but it's not finished yet (I put a lot of dead ornamental grasses in, and they haven't completely decomposed yet. Since it's my first time with compost as well, I have no idea when it'll be finished and usable.) I have broccoli and greens growing in the garden now, which hopefully will continue through the winter. Then, I want to start planting tomatoes, basil, etc. in March.
So I'm thinking about adding a bag of chicken or steer manure from Home Depot as fertilizer. Should that simply be spread on top the existing soil? I don't want to dig around too much because I currently have plants there, but I want it in the ground in time for my tomatoes in mid-late March. My other idea (and the main question this rambling post is asking) is to buy the manure now and throw it in my compost pile for a month or two. I figure this would both help finish decomposition in my compost pile, as well as making sure the manure is well-aged before I put it in my garden. Then I could add the compost/manure mix in spring. However, would this defeat the purpose of adding manure, because it would start breaking down in the compost pile and not my garden?
Thanks very much!