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.
The genns Phaseolus, to which our cultivated beans, with the exception of the English, belong, possesses a wide geographical range. It is fonnd indigenous in Asia, Africa, and America, with its adjacent islands; but Nature has not furnished Europe, so far as investigation has gone, with a single species. We have several on our northern continent, but those that we usually grow as food, and are to be most profitably recommended, are of Asiatic origin. Notwithstanding which, during the growing season, our climate is highly suitable to their condition, and from their productive and wholesome qualities, they have now become a class of standard vegetables.
There have been many species introduced to notice, from time to time, by hardy adventurers, and high expectations have been anticipated; but when fruiting time came, they were formd to be only duplicates of former importations, or were of inferior properties, and we have as often had to fall back upon well-tried, and formerly accepted varieties. The hybridizer is, however, doing his share of improvement, and there is still work ahead.
The best soil for this class of plants, without exception, is a rich sandy loam. Any tolerably fertile mould, with a dry bottom, will grow them well enough. A cold or wet situation should always be avoided, as in such the seeds will most commonly rot before vegetating; and, in all cases, there is nothing gained by being in too great a hurry to have the beans in the ground before some solar warmth has been infused into it. Great mistakes are often made in this way, and the seedsman is afterwards blamed for having sold bad seed. The fact is, the organization is of tropical constitution, and we cannot force its healthy development under contrary circumstances; therefore we may say, as the best advice - wait until the peculiar chilliness which winter leaves behind, and with which all cultivators must be acquainted, has been evaporated from the soil. According to each situation or locality, so will the suitable state be, and after this no time should be lost in sowing the first crop. The hardiest of the Dwarfs, and also the Scarlet Runners, will generally succeed if put in early; but with the Lima, or indeed all Pole beans, it is better to let the soil get somewhat warmed by the sun's influence.
Seasons differ, and localities are earlier or later according to the latitude, situation, or dryness of base; and on this account I have endeavored to show the actual requirement, instead of mentioning exact time. So far for out door culture; but further, if it be required, and expense is no object, the Dwarfs may be had fresh gathered the year round.
I have grown for two years a variety of bean which should be cultivated in every garden, as I consider it superior to any snap bean in cultivation; and in the future shall cultivate no other. I refer to the Giant Wax Pole Bean. But as I may have pole beans on the brain, I send you some as a sample, and hope you will give your readers your opinion; for pet beans are like the last new vine or young crows, - every one thinks his own the whitest. Al Fresco.
[The beans came safely to hand; we tried them, found them very superior in quality, and resolved to plant a large patch of them next season. Let our readers who are fond of beans make a note of this and secure seed in time. We presume every seed store has it for sale. - Ed].