FRENCH (OR DWARF) BEANS
These beans prefer light, deeply-worked but fairly rich soils of a warm character.
Varieties such as Canadian Wonder, Ne Plus Ultra and Masterpiece, are suitable for use both as green beans and for dried Haricot beans, the two latter varieties particularly being useful for the production of dried Haricots.
Canadian Wonder and Masterpiece are still easily available but not Ne Plus Ultra.
The plants of these beans are tender and should not be sown in the open until mid-April, successive batches being sown until the end of June.
Rows should be 2 ft. apart, and the spacing of the plants in the rows not closer than 9 in. Sow with a dibber, or in a shallow trench drawn with a hoe, about 2 in. deep. By placing two seeds at each interval, a regular stand of plants can be secured. Pull out the weakest when growth is sufficiently advanced.
When grown for green pods, keep the plants closely picked, otherwise they will cease to bear. A light mulching of the surface soil will be of great assistance to them. Watering will also prolong the crop.
It is worth noting that the seeds of some French beans are useful for consumption in the green stage, like peas. There are several suitable varieties, such as Green Gem or Green Flageolet, but the seeds of Masterpiece and Ne Plus Ultra are also quite palatable in the green stage.
In addition to the French beans Masterpiece and Ne Plus Ultra, such special varieties as Dutch Brown and Comtesse de Chambord are particularly suitable for the production of Haricot beans.
French bean Masterpiece is available nowadays and you may be able to source Comtesse de Chambord but the most popular bean for haricots is the Italian Borlotto. Dwarf and climbing versions of Borlotto (or Borlotti) beans can be sourced.
They are grown in the same way.as other dwarf beans, but the green pods are not picked, all being left to mature seeds. At the conclusion of growth the plants are pulled and dried off. When perfectly dry the pods are shelled and the beans stored for use in a cool, dry place.
One half-pint will sow a single row of at least 100 ft.