The French Intensive Method

The French Intensive Method: History and Hallmark Tenets

The French intensive method was pioneered by English Master Gardener Alan Chadwick at UC Santa Cruz in 1967. It was the synthesis of several methods of gardening to which Chadwick had been exposed over the years, from the traditional French market garden to the more intensive European techniques of small scale food production. It also was informed by his readings on the farming techniques of ancient world cultures and his personal proclivities towards beauty, order and detail.

Hallmark tenets of French Intensive Gardening

Permanent beds: all the work you put into improving soil structure compounds year after year without the intermittent compaction caused by changing a bed into a pathway
Specific Tools: the D-handled spade for digging, the tilthing/digging fork for secondary cultivation, the bow rake for shaping beds
Double/Deep digging: incredibly deep, intensive cultivation at the beginning
Use of transplants: using the greenhouse to get a head start on the season, increasing efficiency of planting
Intensive spacing/high yield: making the soil such a hospitable, well-aerated, nutrient-rich place for plants to grow that it can support more plants per acre.
Intercropping: using companion plants that are mutually beneficial when grown close together.
Evenness: straight lines, attention to detail, flattop beds
Mature compost: removing compostable material from the farm system to compost in a designated location in order to avoid interrupting the cropping cycle