How To Grow Lima Beans

Lima beans are native to South and Central America and often grow best in temperatures from 15 to 20 degrees. In addition to being delicious and nutritious, lima beans are not challenging to grow. No matter if you are a beginner or not, it is simple to plant, take care, and harvest lima beans. Keep reading to learn how to grow lima beans and get the best results.

Choose lima bean seeds

Lima beans can be divided into two varieties: vine beans and bush beans, which are usually labeled indeterminate and determinate, respectively. They are annuals that only grow in a single season of the year. You can easily find the seeds at any garden supply or nursery store. Bush beans typically mature quickly and are called determinate since they yield all of the beans at the same time. The bushes can grow up to 30 to 90 cm in height. If you grow lima beans in a pot, it is better to go for bush varieties like Fordhook or Henderson. Vine beans grow more slowly, but they can produce more yield. Also, they can ensure diseases and pests better. With a height of around 2 to 4 meters, vines are ideal for small gardens.

Prepare the seedlings

After purchasing lima bean seeds, you should germinate them by wrapping in a wet paper towel and seal in an airtight bag. Wait for a few days before they sprout small roots and stems. If you are living in an area with short growing seasons, start bean seedlings in pots roughly 3 to 4 weeks before the final spring frost. Bury each seed under 1 to 2 inches of loose soil and keep them in a moist, warm environment. Consider using paper or biodegradable peat pots. Lima bean seedlings could be delicate and hard to transplant, so you should use one which you could directly plant to the ground. Avoid planting a plastic or clay pot because it would limit the growth of your plants.

Sow

Sow the seedlings or seeds in the mid-spring. Since Lima beans are native South and Central America, they often thrive in warm climates where the temperatures range from 15 to 20 degrees during the growing period. Start planting the seeds 2 to 4 weeks after the last spring frost when the weather gets warm. If you start them indoors, then just sow the seeds or seedlings. Avoid planting the seeds too early because they might rot in moist and cool soil. However, if you grow them too late, high temperatures might interfere with their growth.

Grow

Plant the lima beans 1 or 2 inches deep in the ground. Set bush varieties 4 to 6 inches apart, while vine beans will need a space of around 8 to 10 inches. Make sure the eye faces downward to the soil. In case you are growing multiple rows, keep in mind leave sufficient space, from 24 to 36 inches, between each row for unrestricted growth and easy access. The perfect site for growing lima beans is moderately fertile, well-drained, and sunny. Choose an area with acidic soil, with a pH of 6 to 6.8. Avoid planting in high-nitrogen soil or using a fertilizer which has been mixed with extra nitrogen, which can limit the growth of your beans. That’s why it is essential to test the soil for pH levels before starting.

Set up support structures

For vine varieties, you need to set up some support structures such as a trellis or a pole for them to reach the full growth potential. Make sure to build them as soon as you grow the seeds to avoid damaging their delicate roots. A metal or wooden pole should be at least 5 feet tall, and less than 1 inch in diameter. Also, you need to stake the support securely in the ground near the plant. When the beans grow, you will have to guide the vine patiently so that it starts to wrap around the structure.

Water regularly

Make sure the soil is always damp. However, avoid watering too frequently or heavily because it can drown your seedlings. Ideally, you should provide around 1 inch of water per week, from irrigation or rain, during the pod development and blossoming stages. Pour the water at the plants’ base rather than the top because mildew and disease could develop in wet foliage. To conserve moisture, especially during the summer, you can spread mulch at the base. This can also help prevent weeds.

Pest control

Inspect your lima beans regularly to look for signs of insects and bugs or their damage. If you see nonbeneficial bugs or their damage, try to identify the exact species so that you could find the best method to eliminate them. Some common types of pests on lima beans include mites, aphids, and flea beetles. In some cases, you can control the pests just by spraying with a water hose, which will knock them off the lima bean plants. But if it doesn’t work, you can use diatomaceous earth or insecticidal soap.

Harvest

Bush beans often mature in 60 to 70 days, while vines varieties can be harvested after 85 to 90 days of planting. At that time, the plants will flower, then the flowers die, and pods appear. You should harvest only when the pods are filled-out and bright green. Thus, make sure to be patient, but don’t wait too long because the beans would dry out, making them tough and inedible. You can test by gently tugging a pod. If the beans come off easily, then it is ready. Ideally, you can suck the beans out of the seed pods by pulling the string. Though this method can be time-consuming, it will ensure the quality of your beans.

Dry and store

Lima beans can be dried out for storage in the long term or prepared to cook immediately. In most cases, freshly-picked beans can last for around 2 weeks in the fridge. But you should blanch and freeze them first to ensure the overall quality and freshness. For long-term storage, consider shelling and drying the beans thoroughly. Keep them in a dry and cool airtight container that is carefully cleaned and sanitized so that they can last for around 8 to 10 months.

Related References

How to Grow Bush Beans

Bush beans are grown in gardens, commercial as well as domestic, since a long time as long as humans have started gardening. The main reason for growing bush beans in domestic gardens is that this wonderful food can be used as a good source of protein as well as green vegetable. The information provided in this write-up will help you to know how to grow bush beans in your garden.

Advantages and disadvantages of growing

Growing bush beans in your garden may have some advantages and disadvantages like:

Advantages

  • Generally, bush beans are easier to grow as they require less maintenance
  • Bush beans are self-supporting and space saving as they rarely grow more than exceed 24” in height
  • Bush beans will provide crop in bulk after a period of three to four weeks
  • Bush beans are popular more among those who can or freeze their beans
  • Bush beans can be grown as green manure

Disadvantages

  • They do not grow well if planted at the same location every year
  • You will have to change its location every time you grow them
  • Continuous picking can increase its yield to some extent but less than other varieties including pole beans

Planting Bush Beans

Normally beans including bush beans can be sown directly in the garden as well as indoor. Small bean plants sown indoor can be transplanted to the garden later on. The seeds of bush beans can be sown indoors from 10-24 days before planting them in the garden. They should be sowed in moderately hot weather temperature. If you want to sow their seeds directly in the garden, then they should be sowed in 3 feet apart rows and nearly one inch deep in the soil.

Growing Seedlings

When the seeds are sown indoor then well, grown-up seedlings can be planted in the garden in single or multiple wide rows. The distance between plants should be almost 4 to 6 inches. Densely sown seeds can also be thinned by transplanting them in the garden at a distance of nearly 4-6 inches away from each other. If you do not have space in the garden, then you can also cut some of the seedlings with scissors, without disturbing their roots, to thin the plantation of bush beans.

Transplanting Seedlings

The grown-up seedlings of bush beans can be transplanted into the garden when the temperature of the soil is sufficiently warm to encourage their growth at an outside location. The late spring can be the right time to transplant seedlings of bush beans.

Succession Planting

If you want to harvest the crop of bush beans for a longer time, then you should grow them in succession. Usually, bush beans start producing all at once. So to get them for a longer time you should plant them after every 2 weeks. It is known as Succession Planting of bush beans.

Insect and Pest Control

After planting bush beans, the first few weeks are very crucial to ensure the productivity and survival of their plants. Some time seeds of bush beans do not germinate due to various reasons including the coldness of soil, too deep sowing of seeds, seeds are old or damaged by pests, etc. In such condition you will have to observe the plants frequently, at least 2-3 times in a week, to find the signs of pests and insects as well as diseases.

The problem of insects and pests can be controlled without affecting the quality of the crop by rotting their plants if you grow these plants every year. Insects are more attracted to weak plants whereas healthy plants can tolerate the damage caused by the pests. You can also control the infestation of the insects and pests in your bush bean plants by inspecting them regularly and focusing on the damages caused by them like leaves damaged by insect-eating, discoloration of leaves, markings on fruit surface or dying-back tips of plants. You can easily prevent any damage to the quality of the fruit as well as the health of the plant by controlling the problem of pests and insect before they harm your plants or fruits.

Controlling Diseases and Problems

The yield of your bush bean plants can also be affected by various types of plant diseases. You can easily control the problems caused by diseases by:

  • Sowing certified and free-from-disease seeds, Planting the seedlings in well-drained soil in enough light.
  • Avoid splashing water on the foliage and
  • avoid overhead watering
  • Avoiding overcrowding plantation
  • Digging out dying or diseased plants and cleaning up the debris
  • Investigating the problems experienced by weak plants 
  • Avoiding planting or transplanting bush bean seedlings in infected areas

When Are Bush Beans Ready To Harvest Ripe?

As green beans:

Green beans of bush beans can be ready to harvest within 50 – 55 days of planting them. The time of maturity of the beans can depend upon the variety of seeds you have sown.

As dry beans

Dry beans or bush beans can be harvested when they grow up to full maturity. Normally, the pods of beans are considered to be fully matured when the leaves of the plants dry up and start falling. The size of the pod by the time of their full maturity can vary from 3-4 inch to 12-14 inch depending upon the season you have grown them or the variety of seeds used while sowing.

Harvesting

Green bush beans can be harvested nearly 50-80 days after planting them. The size of the beans at the time of harvesting them can vary according to their use. If you want to eat them as a green vegetable, then you should not allow them to become yellowish in color as it can reduce the yield of the plant along with affecting their taste. Green beans should be picked up frequently to maximize their output as well as quality.

Storing

If you want to store bush beans, then you remove their pods nearly ¼ inch above the fruit while harvesting them. While removing pods, you should be careful to damage the plant. They should not be crushed if you want to harvest the crop for a longer time. These pods can be dried to store for future use. You can also freeze or can bush bean t use them in the near future.

Related References