Growing Lima Beans from Seeds
Planting lima bean seeds in your vegetable garden is a great way to enjoy this nutritious annual. Lima beans have light green pods that bear beans, surrounded by three leaflets with white flowers. They can be used in salads, soups, stir fry dishes or as boiled vegetables. Follow these steps to successfully plant lima bean seeds in your back yard.
Step 1 – Purchase the Seeds
Purchase the type of lima beans seeds you want to grow from any nursery. There are generally two varieties-bush and pole. Bush lima beans, also called baby limas, butter beans, Madagascar beans and Carolina beans produce smaller seeds than the pole variety. They can grow up to 2 feet tall and are harvested between 60 to 80 days from sowing. Pole lima beans can grow up to 12 feet high, have large seeds, and are generally harvested between 85 to 90 days after sowing.
Step 2 – Preparing the Site for Sowing Seeds
Lima beans prefer loose well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Make sure the planting site gets full sun rather than partial shade. Amend the soil with any organic vegetable fertilizer to provide the needed nutrients.
Step 3 – Sowing Seeds
Make sure you sow the seeds a few weeks after the danger of the last frost has passed, and the soil temperature has warmed up a bit. Lima beans will not set pods if it is still cold or wet outside. A consistent temperature of at least 65 degrees F for a week is required for successful seed germination.
Plant your seeds about an inch deep into the soil. Seeds of the bush variety should be planted 3 inches apart, with rows spaced about 2 feet from one another. Plant pole lima beans seeds 6 to 10 inches apart, with rows spaced 3 feet from each other. Plant five to six beans seeds at each stake or pole.
Step 4 – Wateing and Feeding
Keep the soil evenly moist during sowing time to avoid seeds from cracking or germinating poorly. Remember not to over water the seeds. Water the roots at ground level in the morning. This way, the sun dries any moisture that falls off the leaves, eliminating the occurrence of mildew or disease.
Fertilize with compost. You can avoid nitrogen rich fertilizers because lima beans do not require extra nitrogen.
Step 5 - Thinning
Thin your seedlings once they germinate to space them 4 inches apart. Use scissors to cut the weaker seedlings at soil level, being careful not to disturb the roots of other seedlings.
Step 6 – Pest Control
Beans are susceptible to bean beetles, aphids, flea beetles and mites that can cause disease. If you encounter them, spray them with a blast of water from the hose. Clean your vegetable garden frequently and remove debris.
Step 7 - Harvesting Lima Bean Seeds
Pluck your beans when the pods are plump to encourage other pods to produce, thus extending flowering and production. Seeds will become tough if pods are left too long. Generally lima beans will produce 2 to 3 picking in one season.