Author Topic: Lima Beans  (Read 369 times)

reed

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Lima Beans
« on: 2019-03-08, 06:33:02 AM »
Is anyone else working with Lima Beans? I have a population I call Survivor Limas that I have been growing similar to my Survivor Pole Beans but Lima Beans overall are not especially productive for me. The most productive and reliable one has small dark red seeds and we are not especially fond of its flavor but last year I found a couple white or mostly white seeded ones that produced pretty good. Now, of course they are all mixed up but I figure I'll just keep planting the white or mostly white ones. Also in my mix already are yellow, gold, tan, light green and pink with various spots and mottling.  Pretty much all of them are better flavor than the dark red but none as productive. 

Unlike my survivor common beans I have been providing trellis for the Limas because they are all such huge vines. That's one thing I want to change if I can so this year I have several  new to me, bush types which I will grow along side the pole types. Does anyone know if there  are shorter pole types such as I have found with common beans  or if crossing the two might result in some? I'v found lots of info on Lima Bean breeding but none that addresses this issue.


Woody Gardener

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Re: Lima Beans
« Reply #1 on: 2019-03-08, 08:32:01 AM »
Good luck with the limas!

I like limas but of the dozen or so varieties I've tested none came even close to common pole or bush beans for productivity. Perhaps someone will post a productive variety.

Joseph Lofthouse

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Re: Lima Beans
« Reply #2 on: 2019-03-08, 09:35:10 AM »
Lima beans are one of those species that barely survives on my farm.

Here's what my entire 2018 harvest looked like. I've grown two generations of seed so far without weeding. That's encouraging.

Ferdzy

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Re: Lima Beans
« Reply #3 on: 2019-03-08, 10:47:47 AM »
We've been growing Lima beans for a few years but since I would say we are still learning how to grow (or more to the point, when to harvest and how to use them) I would not say we are "working with" them. The idea has, of course, crossed our scheming little brains to cross what we have, which are King of the Garden, Alabama, and Potawatami.  They are all pole beans because we like pole beans for ease of picking and clean pods.

King of the Garden is quite marginal here. We've been growing it for over 5 years and now get a small but usable harvest most years. I can't remember if our first crop was 2 or 3 viable beans, but it was one of those. It sure doesn't have the 5 or 6 beans per pod described in old listings of it. We get all excited when we find three. The beans can be quite large and we have trouble getting them to dry down completely. We persist with this one because it is probably the one we like the best for flavour.

Alabama and Potawatami are very hardy and quite productive here. Potawatami is the better of the two in terms of production. Both of them routinely form 4 beans per pod, but they are a LOT smaller than the King of the Garden. We haven't yet eaten much of either, so the jury is still out on that.

A bean with the colour and  flavour of King of the Garden and size and productivity of Potawatami would be a lovely thing...


Ferdzy

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Re: Lima Beans
« Reply #4 on: 2019-03-08, 10:52:48 AM »
To answer your actual question, Henderson bush Lima is pretty much the only bush Lima you can get around here and seems to be the standard everywhere. We did grow it once but were flummoxed about when to harvest (still are, frankly) and found the bush habit to be a pain in arse*. My vague recollection is that the crop was a decent size (or would have been, if we had actually managed to pick it.)


*hips and lower back, actually.

reed

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Re: Lima Beans
« Reply #5 on: 2019-03-08, 01:56:43 PM »
King of the garden is a great flavor bean but not very productive for me, it is however in the original mix of my seeds along with Christmas, another large seeded variety. Christmas is probably more reliably productive here than King of the Garden but we don't think it as good except fresh.

For fresh beans we harvest when pods are filled out good but still green, they are a pain to shell out, sometimes the inside of the pod sticks on pretty tight but they have flavor that isn't matched after they dry.  That said most of mine are saved to harvest dry and use in soup mixes or just by them selves as a side dish. A lot of them get shatterey when dry so got to be careful of that.

Christmas, KoG and the little dark red one whose name I can't recall were the only ones I had for a long time and they got mixed up pretty good. Then I got a mix from someone on HG and added them in. Two more new ones that I got as pure varieties and that stood out pretty good last year both for production and flavor were Snow Storm and Rosie Calire.

A variety called Mrs. Maud's last year exploded with growth and early flowers but set no pods from the early flowers. It flowered more later and made a few seeds of poor quality.

I also don't want bush habit but I'm mixing some bush types in this season to up the diversity and see if I end up with some shorter vines in future, something that tops out at 6' - 8' feet would be great as opposed to flopping back down off a ten foot trellis.  The new bush types I got for this year are Henderson's, Fordhook 242 and Jackson Wonder. I mostly just want their pollen mixed in but will save some seed from them too, assuming they make any.
« Last Edit: 2019-03-08, 02:08:59 PM by reed »

Ferdzy

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Re: Lima Beans
« Reply #6 on: 2019-03-08, 02:12:38 PM »
My impression from admittedly only 3 years of growing more than one variety of Lima bean is that they aren't particularly inclined to cross, at least not the ones I have, not here. Formal introductions may make a difference.

IF they follow the pattern of phaseolus vulgaris there should be a wide range of vine types possible. What you are describing is a type of bean plant that was favoured by first nations growers, but not generally liked by European growers, who wanted either definite pole beans or definite bush beans. Native heirloom phaseolus vulgaris often have rangy side-vines, if that's the right term (I know it isn't) and grow to about corn height (so the six or so feet you are looking for). On the other hand, I think Limas have been less influenced by European ideas about how plants should behave, so if there is a dearth of mid-length vines it might be because they don't do it well. All this is just wild speculation on my part. As usual, nothing to do but try!

Raymondo

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Re: Lima Beans
« Reply #7 on: 2019-03-08, 07:24:31 PM »
Iíve grown Christmas once or twice. Got a few seeds back but not many. Someone gave me some Speckled Calico, which look very like Christmas, so this season I planted some of both. Not sure Iíll get anything back though because itís been very dry. If I do, Iíll keep planting to see if I get any adaptation to my growing conditions. It would be nice to add another pulse to the winter kitchen.
Ray
Mildly acidic clay loam over clay and ironstone; temperate climate modified by altitude (1000m); avg rainfall 780mm; usually wet summers and dry winters.

Joseph Lofthouse

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Re: Lima Beans
« Reply #8 on: 2019-03-08, 07:53:15 PM »
Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties lists two references for crossing rate in lima's: a) 0-80% by bees. b) less than 18%.

reed

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Re: Lima Beans
« Reply #9 on: 2019-03-09, 03:35:42 AM »
I think some where between 0 and 80% about covers it ;D. Limas are one of few vegetables in my garden that commonly are visited by honey bees but bumblebees are the main ones. That dark red seed coat is also very dominate, it about always shows up disproportionately to the amount planted. Or maybe it just seems that way cause it is more productive. Maybe I should keep track and pay attention, and see for sure if white seeds are producing red for example.

King of the Garden and Christmas that I used buy were very large, all the others are small seeds in comparison. All of my seeds are smaller now even the white or mostly white, maybe 75% the size of KofG but I occasionally find a pod with five or even six beans. I don't see as many misshaped seeds or seeds wrinkled seed coats any more.

One thing I have noticed is Limas are very intolerant of getting wet while drying down. Don't take much rain to sprout them inside the pod if they are close to harvest.   

This year I am planting mostly just the largest white or predominately white along with the new bush types. I think crossing works better if the different ones are intermixed on the same trellis so that the bees easily move between them. Flowers within inches of each other instead of on different trellis works much better. It might be a problem for crossing if the bush flowers are down low and the pole up high. Maybe I should do a patch without trellis with the pole types growing in the bush types so that the flowers are closer together. 

reed

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Re: Lima Beans
« Reply #10 on: 2019-03-12, 07:05:46 AM »
My bush Lima seeds arrived and I'm amazed at the diversity in the variety Jackson Wonder, lots of color shades and markings on the seeds. Going back through the comments it sounds like Lima beans are not especially productive for a lot of folks. For me they are maybe 25- 40% as productive as my common beans. The little red one planted on its own is probably higher. Any way I think that is plenty good enough to keep up on this project. There are probably ten kinds in my mix now and I'm pretty sure they have  crossed a lot already so mixing in the new bush types should give me a good base to keep selecting from.

Still haven't found much info about breeding for short vines but did find mention that some bush types do better with a little support and found pictures of plants growing that look like they might climb a Little if given the opportunity. I din't know it when I ordered but the Jackson Wonder was breed or selected to be a dwarfish bush, crossing it to the giant vines should be interesting.  I think in a few seasons I'll have my more productive grex that grows as a short vine, anything between 5 - 8 feet is more than acceptable.

Andrew Barney

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Re: Lima Beans
« Reply #11 on: 2019-03-12, 12:17:58 PM »
I currently do not, but I would like to. I'm saddened that Lima beans are being replaced by soybeans more and more. I'm also open to southern "butter beans", which are just a certain kind of lima bean.

P.s. if anyone is growing non gmo black soybeans, I would also be interested to growing those.

reed

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Re: Lima Beans
« Reply #12 on: 2019-03-12, 02:06:49 PM »
I'm not sure the term butter bean, means anything if so I don't know what. That's what my mom and granny called Christmas Limas. My sister-in-law from Tennessee insisted small white or green ones were butter beans.

If you ever visit the Southern Appalachian Seed Swap it's a topic a little like religion or politics, just leave it alone.
« Last Edit: 2019-03-12, 02:08:44 PM by reed »

reed

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Re: Lima Beans
« Reply #13 on: 2019-03-14, 02:01:46 PM »
The Seed Savers Exchange page says isolation distance for Lima beans is 160 - 500 feet, quite a range. Anyway if I get flowers of the bush and pole varieties within inches or even less I figure the bees should take care of for me.

Carol Deppe

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Re: Lima Beans
« Reply #14 on: 2019-03-16, 10:30:42 PM »
I currently do not, but I would like to. I'm saddened that Lima beans are being replaced by soybeans more and more. I'm also open to southern "butter beans", which are just a certain kind of lima bean.

P.s. if anyone is growing non gmo black soybeans, I would also be interested to growing those.
Victory Seeds has lots of non-gmo soybeans, including blacks. Ive grown Black Jet, but thought the flavor as a dry bean really foul. Some think it is great. It may be the earliest black.