Principle 3: Intensive Planting
The third leg of the stool is intensive planting. It creates enhanced and uninterrupted plant and root growth by transplanting seedlings in a close, off-set spacing pattern so their leaves are barely touching at maturity, creating a living mulch over the soil!
The living mulch results in a mini-climate between the plants and the soil, retaining moisture and protecting soil from wind and water exposure that can lead to erosion. Intensive planting also maximizes root material, which increases the biological activity and the organic matter in the soil. (When the soil is healthy, roots can be healthy; when roots are healthy, plants can be healthy.)
Intensive planting limits weed growth, supporting the plants and saving labor. Additionally, the farmer benefits because the hexagonal pattern maximizes the number of plants in a given area, increasing yield.