Growing Beans

 

Bean.–Every garden grows beans of one kind or another. Under this general name, many kinds of plants are cultivated. They are all tender, and the seeds, therefore, should not be planted until the weather is thoroughly settled; and the soil should be warm and loose. They are all annuals in northern countries, or treated as such.

The bean plants may be classified in various ways. In respect to stature, they may be thrown into three general categories, the pole or climbing beans, the bush beans, and the strict-growing or upright beans (as the Broad or Windsor bean).

In respect to their uses, beans again may be divided into three categories, those used as string or snap beans, the entire pod being eaten; those that are used as shell beans, the full-size but immature beans being shelled from the pod and cooked; dry beans, or those eaten in their dry or winter condition. The same variety of bean may be used for all of these three purposes at different stages of its development; but as a matter of fact, there are varieties better for one purpose than the other.

The culture of the bean, while of the easiest, often proves a failure as far as the first crop is concerned, from planting the seed before the ground has become warm and dry. No vegetable seed will decay quicker than beans, and the delay caused by waiting for the soil to become warm and free from excessive moisture will be more than made up by the rapidity of growth when finally they are planted. Beans will grow on most any land, but the best results may be secured by having the soil well enriched and in good physical condition.

The beans may be dropped 2 inches deep in shallow drills, the seeds to lie 3 inches apart. Cover to the surface of the soil, and if the ground be dry, firm it with the foot or the back of the hoe. For the bush varieties, allow 2 feet between the drill-rows, but for the dwarf Limas 2-1/2 feet is better. Pole Limas are usually planted in hills 2 to 3 feet apart in the rows. Dwarf Limas may be sown thinly in drills.

A large number of the varieties of both the green-podded and the wax-podded beans are used almost exclusively as snap beans, to be eaten with the pod while tender. The pole or running beans are used either green or dried, and the Limas, both tall and dwarf, are well known for their superior flavor either as shelled or dry beans.

The ordinary bush beans may be planted at intervals of two weeks from the first planting until the 10th of August. Each planting may be made on ground previously occupied by some early-maturing crop. Thus, the first to third plantings may be on ground from which has been harvested a crop of spinach, early radish, or lettuce; after that, on ground where early peas have been grown; and the later sowings where beets or early potatoes have grown. String beans for canning are usually taken from the last crop.

One quart of seed will plant 100 feet of drill of the bush beans; or 1 quart of Limas will plant 100 hills.

Limas are the richest of beans, but they often fail to mature in the northern states. The land should not be very strong in nitrogen else the plants will run too much to vine and be too late. Choose a fertile sandy or gravelly soil with warm exposure, use some soluble fertilizer to start them off, and give them the best of culture. Aim to have the pods set before the droughts of midsummer come. Good trellises for beans are made by wool twine stretched between two horizontal wires, one of which is drawn a foot above the ground and the other 6 or 7 feet high.

 

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