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.
There are several varieties known by this name. The large white is about the best. Being tall growers, they require more space than the dwarf sorts. The most usual, and on the whole the best method, is to plant in hills four feet apart. Mark off the piece intended for planting, in Straight and right-angled lines; at each of the intersections, drive down an iron bar two feet deep; into the hole thus made, sink a twelve foot pole; afterwards dig around each, raise a small hill two inches high, and level the surface; lay down six or eight beans, with the radicle or eye side downwards, and cover one inch. If poles are not to be obtained conveniently, the seeds may be sown six inches apart, in rows six feet asunder, and the vines trained up strings. These, however, will require support, and it is only a makeshift job without economy. When the plants show the first rough leaves, thin oat to four of the best, loosen the surrounding soil, and draw a portion up to the stems. At the first start, the wind sometimes prevents the young vines attaching themselves to the poles; when so, they should be twined round, always in the opposite direction to the sun's course.
Where there is the convenience of a grapery, greenhouse, or hotbed, a quantity may be sown in pots, or boxes, the first week in March; and, when five or six inches high, they may be gradually hardened off in a cold frame, to be afterwards planted out in the open ground when danger of frost is over. In cold or wet situations, this is of advantage; and, occasionally, under any circumstances with a favorable spring time; but, as a few days only, at the best, can be gained, it is scarcely worth the time and trouble which have to be bestowed.
The sorts recorded above will effectually answer all kitchen purposes, and they undoubtedly possess the finest quality, but as many persons are fond of variety, the following may be noticed: -
These are easily cultivated, and may be kept for winter use.
Dutch Cabs Knife may be used young in the pod, or allowed to ripen for winter.
Scarlet and White Runners are only serviceable as a string bean. They may be sowed earlier than other running beans, and are subject to "burn" out during hot and dry summers.
Carolina is like the Lima, but smaller, and as the latter is better in quality, this has no property to recommend it but its greater hardiness.
Asparagus or Yard Long - of fine flavor when the pod is gathered quite young, as a string bean.
All these last mentioned, excepting the Carolina, may be sowed six inches apart, in rows six feet asunder, and staked in the same way as tall peas; or, the seeds may be planted at the base of each hill of the earliest crop of sweet corn, in which case, if the cobs, after being ready, and the leaves also be stripped off, the stalks will become supports to the beans, without any expense, and will continue to keep the ground occupied for the remainder of the season. Here is another idea in economical cropping.