Landscaping & Nursery Information for Home Gardeners

Lima Beans

Limabeans often fail to reach the surface of heavy, clayey soils. They are cemented in living tombs and literally break their necks trying to push through the crust that forms after a rain. Carefully breaking the crust may help, but it takes time, is back-breaking and not always satisfactory as many of the sprouts are likely to be broken. Hence it is not only risky but even folly to sow large seeded beans in heavy soil in the usual way. Here is a better way to start this crop. 

Two or three weeks before it is safe time to sow seeds in the open garden make a light soil by mixing loam, leaf mold and sand. Place 2" flower pots closely together in a flat and fill them and the spaces between  them with this soil. Do not pack the soil down in them but work it firmly between them with the fingers and add more soil so as to leave it level full-even with the tops of the pots. Place the flat in shallow water until water rises to the surface from below. Remove it and let it drain over night. 

Next morning press a large, plump, heavy bean, eye down, barely out of sight in each pot and set the flat in a sunny, sheltered place outdoors where it may be covered in case of rain or a cold snap. Handled in this way living seeds do not decay as they often do in ' wet, cold, clayey soil. The seedlings need no water until after the true leaves appear. Even then unless they seem to be suffering it is best to avoid watering as damping-off may follow while they are very young. 

When danger of frost has passed, water the plants in the morning of a sunny, breezy day and late in the afternoon set them 15" to 18" asunder in the garden. This watering several hours before transplanting fills the plants with water, makes their removal from the pots easy and prevents checks of growth. If not checked by cold weather limas so handled begin to bear two to four weeks earlier than those grown from seeds sown direct in the garden. 

The small amount of work required to get them started and to transplant them is more than offset by the actual stand of plants, for of course only living, sturdy plants are transplanted and every one should  grow successfully from the start. 

Thin, small, greenish and light weight lima seeds are likely to decay in the soil and those few that do start are prone to make weak plants that produce few or no pods. They.had better be discarded or used for cooking. 

Adapted from: 
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