The Q&A Archives: Growing Lima Beans

Question: I am going to attempt to grow lima beans for the first time. What do I need to know before I take my sprouts to the garden? At this time my sprouts are one inch tall,when should I take them out? What kind of pole can they grow on? How many do I need to plant? I started 12 plants - is that too many? I thank you for whatever you can tell me to help me on my quest for the perfect lima bean.

Answer: Well, for starters, it's best to plant lima bean seeds right in the garden! Unfortunately, large-seeded plants like corn, beans, peas, etc. don't transplant well. If you started each seed in its own peat pot, and were very careful not to disturb the root ball when transplanting, they may not be set back too much, but in general, transplanting sets them back so far that you may as well wait to start them in the ground.

Plant limas when danger of frost has passed and the soil is warm. El Nino has mixed things up a bit this year, so spring has come early. You're probably safe planting them now if nights are no longer frosty. Soak seeds in water for a couple of hours before planting - this will help them germinate more quickly. If yours are pole lima beans, plant 4-5 seeds around each pole, and thin them to the 3 strongest plants. Mulch around plants with hay and grass clippings, and water when your soil feels dry 3/4" deep. Bush limas can be planted 3-4" apart in the row and thinned to 6-8" apart. For those of us who love lima beans, I don't know if there can be too many! You can always preserve the excess by freezing. Enjoy!

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