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Lima Beans?

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Last year I grew Eastland and Jackson Wonder bush lima beans, and this year I tried Fordhook #242. In both cases they seemed to take a very long time to mature into pods worth picking, and I would get only enough for a pint at a time when I went out to harvest them.

I'm wondering whether that's typical; they seem so labor-intensive for so little reward, but we really like them. Would I do better with pole limas?

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Sometimes the best answer is to increase the amount of plants- doubling the plants will give you twice the yields etc. For instance, a farmer feels very good to get one egg a day from a chicken- that's hi yield- I don't grow corn because it takes a lot of plants for enuff to feed me. And I dont have space. Your Limas are probably doin their best.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Thanks, Kittriana. Last year I had two double rows of limas; this year I ordered from Landreth and was really disappointed in the amount of seeds in each package - not at all what was advertised. So I ended up with only one single row. But still, even with my two double rows it seemed that I scarcely got enough to process at each picking! I was just wondering if others have had the same experience.

Dayton, TX(Zone 8b)

This summer was my first time to grow limas. (Christmas Limas) They were somewhat of a disappointment to me. And I so badly wanted to grow them. (My favorite food as a kid was fresh speckled butterbeans with ham.) But there never seemed to be enough at one time to bother cooking any. I did get some 'seed' beans for next year - and that was about it. Sure hope next year to get a much better harvest! Think I will plant more next time, as kittriana suggested. And the soil will be richer next year too, so should help a lot. Better luck to us both next time greenhouse_gal!!

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Thanks, TXbabybloomer. Yes, that was similar to the experience I had this year. Last year because I planted more I got more, but they came over such a long period that it was a pain to keep looking for what was finally developed enough to be worth picking. Were your Christmas limas pole or bush? I think next year I'll try pole and see if that's better.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Sometimes the years just don't cooperate either- and that killer drought- and the year catching no winter so bugs were bad, a lot of folx I know blame germination on plants not coming up- I always blamed the critters for eating too many. When you make an order, make sure the order number has the seed packet size you want- and plant 3 to get 1 if you direct sow- have you considered trying both the pole and bush Lima if you have space? Hmmm, I see Isaac is hitting the NE now, that storm sure is carryin the water!

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Normally I don't have to overplant, but Landreth's fava bean packets contained less than advertised and they also didn't germinate well, so I really didn't have enough out of two packets even to bother harvesting. The two packets of limas did a little better. I think I'll just try pole limas next year and save my back!

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Chuckl- may Mother Nature smile upon you

Dayton, TX(Zone 8b)

My Christmas Limas were pole. I much prefer pole now that I'm older.Too easy for me to topple over when bending to pick bush beans. lol
I ordered King Of The Garden Limas from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds last month, when I ordered my Fall seeds. I find them very generous with their seeds. Next Spring I'll plant them, along with the Christmas Lima seed I saved. I have a 15 foot tunnel trellis to plant, and I'm thinking I'll plant 1/2 of it in limas.
~Diana

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Diana, maybe I'll try those limas too. I usually don't order from BC because I find them more expensive than other places. Thanks!

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Christmas beans are vigorous climbers. We grow them and their lima relatives every year (butter beans and butter peas). They are always productive.

Leslie, I can't offer expertise on growing limas in your zone, but know that they need to be planted way after green beans and take a long time to mature. Once they do mature they produce over a long season. In my case I plant anywhere between late May to July. They produce through freeze. This year I planted in late June on the same line as snow peas had been. Perhaps your season is too short to grow a productive crop. It's maybe like the Mainers who grow okra. The plants look great but they get no okra. We are currently picking dried lima pods of several varieties and the plants are still blooming profusely. We have vines over twenty feet (up an eight foot arbor, across a six foot span and down the other side).

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Laurel, I guess my beef with limas is the long season over which they mature, which means that unless you have a lot of plants, any single picking isn't going to result in enough for a meal or for a package to freeze. Snap beans aren't like that, and it may just require getting used to the way limas produce. I did plant them significantly later than the green beans, and they are still blooming, but I guess I just didn't get enough seeds in those two Landreth packets to give me a decent crop.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Leslie, I can harvest at least one or more pounds of dry beans from a double 6'-8' row of climbers. That would be about three pounds fresh weight. I have doubled that weight with one variety this summer. The only bush type bean for drying I am growing this year is Steuben. This is a more northern heirloom and would perhaps give you more harvest for dry beans than limas.

Contrary to what one might assume, limas are native to climes that are temperate. I can grow good plants in the heat of summer but they don't produce heavily until we get over that extreme hot period Then they go gangbusters until it freezes. Perhaps your summer peak temps are too hot and the time remaining until freeze is too short. If you have a space large enough to spare you could plant more. I'd probably use my space for something else. I don't think you can compare green beans to beans grown for just the bean, fresh or dried. It's like comparing tomatillos to tomatoes. A different animal (or in this case vegetable) altogether.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

When you say you can harvest that amount, do you mean over the long season or at one picking? My objection is how little I get with each picking. And which variety allowed you to double that weight?

I tried growing white coco beans once, for my cassoulets, and got only enough dry beans for a single quart from a double 12' row. Never tried that again. For me dry beans are too labor intensive for very little return!

Maybe my limas will take off if it ever cools down!

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Leslie, we can harvest over a very long season. We have been picking black butterbeans http://www.localharvest.org/pole-lima-bean-seeds-black-knight-butterbean-C15225 like crazy for a month and they show no sign of flagging. We pick the pods as soon as we hear a rattle, indicating the pod is dry enough to easily crack. The flowers on these beans form like clusters of grapes, with many spikes radiating from a central stem and four or more pods per spike. I was given some NOID black butterbeans from a N.C. gardener and a named version from a GA gardener. I find dry beans are anything but labor intensive. Very little soil prep and no cultivation. If you plant bush versions they will eat your space. I'm not seeing you as having the length of season to grow a productive amount. Dry beans are cheap but I like to grow more exotic ones. I don't bother with the 89 cent a pound beans. To me they are a special garden reminder in winter when the garden is, for the most part, asleep.

I am going out of town for a few days but will try to upload some photos.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Yesterday's black butterbeans. They were picked exactly one week before. I measured the row. It's a double seven foot row. The beans were all planted on the north side to run up and toward the south. They continue to put out new growth near their bases while running over twenty feet at this point. The arbor is four sapling poles reinforced with six foot metal fence posts. There are four saplings lashed to the periphery and one cross bar sapling. two by four gauge is laying across the top. I ran the beans on old knitting yarn!

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Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

That looks like quite a crop, Laurel. And these are dried beans? I picked a few limas this morning but only got a handful of fairly full pods.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Those are dried but they get left to dry indoors even more thoroughly for a few weeks before storage. Here are a few pics looking up inside the arbor. You can see that while some pods are brown, others are still forming and flowers continue to bloom.

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Central, TX(Zone 8b)

MaypopLaurel,

Do you always use these as a dry bean? How would you rate their flavor? Where can I get the seed?

Gainesville, FL(Zone 8b)

Quote from Garden_Sass :
MaypopLaurel,

Do you always use these as a dry bean? How would you rate their flavor? Where can I get the seed?

Didn't she say http://www.localharvest.org/pole-lima-bean-seeds-black-knight-butterbean-C15225 ?

-Rich

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

These beans must be at least partially dried to shell. You can't shell them in a green pod. The pod should have a slight rattle before picking. They taste like butterbeans which I think taste like a creamy lima bean. I love limas but they are, in the bean scheme of things, more grainy. The beans I have are a named variety, Harry's Black Jungle butterbeans, and were gifted. I have pointed you to a source of beans that appear to be a variety of mine. I will not be sharing additional seed for at least another year as seed is already promised to friends. I always save a stash to plant and rely on eating what we grow. What I am growing this year, the beans you see, come from seventeen germinated seeds (out of twenty). They have never been sprayed with anything or fertilized. The soil was limed and some cow manure put down prior to planting. I think it's important to provide appropriate trellising for the bean variety you grow if it's a climber. Once a bean reaches a six or eight foot top on a pole, when it has the potential to grow twenty or more feet, it will quit running and producing flowers. This is really why my beans are very productive. Once they reach the top of their poles I'll start looking for ways to let them run horizontally. I've included two not so definitive photos of my Christmas beans to show that they will be able to run horizontally. These were planted very late, over snow peas, and are flowering and setting now. Our first frost date is the end of the first week of November. We should have plenty of lima beans from this double six foot row. Note that I grow in small spaces. This row is a double six foot stand.

People tend to plant them in spring, along with green bean types, which is way to early for this type of bean. Lima types will rot if planted before the soil is on the dry side and the temps are warm.

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Alexandria, IN(Zone 6a)

I have raised Fordhook 242 bush limas for several years. I tried them in pole limas, but they were not that productive. I pick them for green limas at about 1/3 to 1/2 dry lima size and love the flavor.

I plant enough to get a medium/ large serving every 3 days. They are a bit hard to get a good stand.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Over what period do your limas produce?

Alexandria, IN(Zone 6a)

Mine produce in August and September and a bit in October.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Indy, how many do you plant?

Alexandria, IN(Zone 6a)

I like about 125 feet.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Wow, that's a lot of plants!

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Indiana- one of those 'fly over states' - isn't as crowded as NJ, our EX garden state turning concrete. You have to figure how much plants will provide how much food you are trying to put away, and plant a bit extra

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Kittriana, our area of NJ is very sparsely populated - lots of rivers and marshes and fields. We've got 20 acres ourselves; just didn't plan on putting it all in lima beans!

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Sorry, southern half is a bit more open, I've watched the regions around Trenton for many years, and that area, was always sad to see more and more of it turning into developments, I wish you luck, they've been giving you what they know, I hope it's of some use.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Bean update...

We have been traveling and not been to our garden in N. GA for almost six weeks. There have been lots of frosts and temps in the twenties and thirties since mid-November. What a surprise to see the seventeen Harry's Black Jungle bean plants still at it. We picked a grocery store bag of dry pods to shell today. The vines are still green and there are green leaves. It's protected enough beneath the bean arbor for a potted jalapeno to keep on going. Jalapenos and lima beans in mid-December in the N. GA mountains (zone 7a).

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Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

That's amazing, Laurel! My garden's been defunct for a while now, although I still have the one kale plant that made it past the gnawing critters.

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