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.
Some of the varieties are only fit to be used while the pods are in a young and crisp state, cut into small pieces and boiled; others are allowed to ripen, and the seeds only cooked; while a few are adapted to both purposes. They require to be sowed in rows eighteen inches apart Stretch a garden line tight, and with the corner of a hoe open a drill two inches deep; into this lay the seeds, two inches distant from each other; cover up carefully, and when the plants are fairly above ground, thin out to six inches, at the same time loosen the soil on each side, and draw a portion to the stems. This will assist the growth, and prevent the wind from blowing the plants over; and, if the same operation be again repeated in two weeks, it will be of still farther benefit.
There is often much waste of land in the way some vegetable gardens are cropped with the more transient articles, and here is one of the examples. In most edibles of this character, only a small quantity, with frequent sowings, is needed, and if a plot be occupied by such alone, it interferes with the space that may be wanted for those of a more permanent, or later character. Supposing, for instance, we take the piece intended for Water, or Musk-melons, the rows will be seven to eight feet distant, and the vines will not meet till midsummer. Now, if between each of these, a couple of rows of the first and second sowing of Dwarf Beans be put in, they will be pulled and ready for removal before the melons interfere with them; a third and fourth sowing may be accommodated between the later plantings of corn, and a trifle of thought or forecast will readily show how; not only this, but many other things, as radishes, lettuces, etc,, may be had in abundance, and still the garden be fully and generally filled with those kinds that occupy the whole space most of the after part of the season.
With such ideas, judiciously applied, one acre may be made to produce more than two without them, besides the avoiding the having one-half bare soil all summer.
To keep up a regular succession of Dwarf Beans, it will, be necessary to sow about each three weeks, commencing as soon as the earth gets to be warmed a little. In latitude 40°, this will generally be about the first of April, but earlier or later according to the divergence, and continuing on to the beginning of September. Many kinds are to be found in the seed lists. The best I have tried are, for the first sowing, Early Mohawk, a hardy, very early, and good sort. As a second, Early China, a free bearer of good quality. For all after summer successions, Refugee, a most abundant and profitable kind; and Royal White, a fine, late sort, of good flavor, suitable for use either as a legume, or a dried bean for winter. Any ordinary family will obtain enough, for the time being, from a row fifty feet long, and if the successive sowings be attended to, there will always be a gathering ready until frost cuts down the plants. When it is determined to have fresh "string" beans the whole year, the sowings will have to be continued under glass with artificial heat, and in this case the temperature should be kept up from 55° to 60° by night, and 70° to 80° in the day, and the plants placed near the glass.
Boxes, three feet long, six inches wide, and five inches deep, with a few holes in the bottom for drainage, are the best for this purpose, each of which will serve for eighteen plants. These may be filled with a well incorporated compost of equal parts of very rotten barnyard manure and good friable loam. Sow the seeds, and cover one inch; when the plants are up, add another inch to the surface. Be careful to have the soil not more than slightly moist, unless with a strong heat, until the seeds are above ground, as they are subject to rot For this purpose, the Early China, or Early Valentine are two of the best. Six of these boxes will give enough as one crop, but there should be a fresh lot sown each three weeks. In the forcing-house this plant is very subject to red spider, which, if not kept under, will prevent all success. It may be effectually destroyed by a free use of the syringe, and a little sulphur mixed in the water thus applied.