Growing shellies on sweet corn stalks

l_james(mo5)December 2, 2008

I tried something that I had heard about but it didn't work out for me. I planted King of the Garden shelling beans in a few spots in my sweet corn patch along with a few pole tripods I set up. After harvesting the sweet corn the bean vines took over the corn patch along with lambs quarter and pig weed. There were lots of blossoms and a few young pods that I saw but when everything died and dried out there were no pods of dried beans to be found.

What went wrong? Any ideas?

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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Hard to tell what might have gone wrong... planted too late perhaps, crowded too closely (by veggies or weeds), too much heat, too little water.

"King of the Garden" limas are probably not the best choice for a cornfield bean. They bear too late, and the vines are too robust. Sweet corn, in particular, has shorter, weaker stalks than field corn - too weak to bear the weight / wind load of a vigorous pole bean.

The more restrained vines of a half-runner variety might do better on sweet corn. I have seen several large seeded half-runners that make good shellies. "Brockton" (from SSE) had shorter vines, large seeds, and bore early. Two heirlooms I've grown recently ("Bert Goodwin" and "Austrian Soup") might also do well.

You are from an area with many half-runner & "cornfield" beans, so I am sure others will chime in.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 2:57AM
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If you're going to grow on sweet corn then I'd definitely think of a half runner. As Zeedman mentioned, sweet corn has small, weak stalks.

It is hard to tell why the limas didn't produce. I wonder if they did, but that the pods shattered before you got in there to look?

Tahlequah, OK

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 10:30AM
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jimster(z7a MA)

I grew King of the Garden limas this year. They were much slower to produce, and less productive, than my other beans but they did produce. If my season had been longer, I would have had a better yield. The vines were massive.


    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 12:46PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

K.O.G is early for a large-seeded pole lima, but still too late to be reliable in short season areas. Small-seeded limas like "Sieva" and "Carolina Red" mature more reliably, and bear heavily.

I grew K.O.G. every year when I lived in San Diego... so when I moved to Wisconsin, I tried it here as well. As luck would have it, the first year was an "El Nino" summer, and it succeeded - I filled half a garbage can just before frost. However, the next 4 years were failures, after which I gave up on it. It is still my favorite lima for its fat seeds, rich flavor & fine texture.

Pole limas (and pole beans in general) are very cost effective as transplants; the yield per plant is very high. I have been able to grow several here that would have been impossible otherwise (such as "Hopi Pole" this year) due to their higher DTM. Since K.O.G. is marginal for my climate when direct seeded, that may be all the edge it needs - I'll be trying it next year to find out.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 2:06PM
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    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 3:16PM
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I think he is referring to "Days To Maturity" (DTM).

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 9:00PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Good idea about shattering, George, I hadn't thought about that one. The problem is more likely to occur if the dry pods are not harvested promptly. Some limas are very prone to shattering... can't remember if I ever had that problem with K.O.G. when I grew it in SoCal.

Yes, Happy, I was referring to "Days to Maturity", from date planted to date dry seed is harvested. "Hopi Pole" comes in around 115 DTM, vice about 85 for "Sieva" and 95-100 for "King of the Garden". That's a 30-day spread, which is a world of difference in my neck of the (north)woods. The DTM for green-shelled limas is generally about 7-10 days earlier.

A Julian calendar is handy for figuring out DTM. It should be pointed out that DTM can be deceptive, when compared to the length of the local growing season. For heat-loving plants (including limas) only the warm days count. Once night temps drop below about 50 degrees F., growth pretty much stops.

"Hopi Pole" is a real challenge for my growing season, since I can only depend upon about 100-110 warm days most years. It was direct-seeded the first time I grew it, and was just beginning to bear when the frost came. I harvested only a cup or two of dry seed from a 30' row; over 90% of the pods (and it was a very heavy pod set) were left rotting on the vine... really frustrating. This year, with transplants, the harvest (dry seed + shellies) was close to 50%. Obviously, it's poorly adapted here; but I love the rich flavor.

Given their relative DTM's, the fact that I was able to succeed with "Hopi Pole" transplants this year gives me real hope for a good harvest from K.O.G. next year. Jimster, that could be the edge you need as well. Transplants might even be helpful in parts of Missouri, although limas should succeed as direct seed from about mid-Illinois southward.

You know, it's curious... I've never seen or heard of a half-runner lima. Is there such a thing? It seems they are either bushes, or rampant vines, with nothing in between. The least vigorous pole lima I've grown was equal to the most vigorous common pole bean... and the most vigorous pole limas were real monsters.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 3:14AM
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I'm pretty sure that the wild form of lima is a MASSIVE vine. I still have a very small quantity of a rare Mexican lima called Tapachetl (pronounced Taup-aw-chet-el). It was THE only bean grown, for who knows how long, in an Aztec village in the state of San Luis Potosí. That is, until they started having contact from outside. Within a generation this bean nearly went extinct, being replaced by more common phaseolus varieties. Why was this? Because it had such massive vines that it required trees to support it, and the foliage was so thick that people feared harvesting on account of venomous snakes which would hide there. I grew it on tripods, while still in Hidalgo, Mexico. It did alright. But in the northern U.S.A. it won't even bud. I sent seed to two Gardenweb members in Texas. So far one of them managed a good crop and sent me back a packet of seed, which I'm going to keep in the deep freeze.


    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 7:43AM
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Zeedman, thats a shame about the the loss of your 30' row. If something like that happens again, do you think it might help to throw a sheet of clear plastic over the row for an emergency greenhouse? Maybe with bricks, waterbottles, or even blackpainted waterfilled barrels laid on their sides along the base of the row as a heat sink? I've read that 1" pvc makes a cheap arch for plastic greenhouses.

George maybe with a greenhouse like this you could get get Tapachetl to finish some seeds. A vine does not HAVE to have support, it can be allowed to sprawl and tangle, maybe under a rowcover, then when dieback occurs, search the vine for mature seedpods.

Actually a vine on the ground may live longer than a vine on a support. This year I had a few pole vine volunteers from dropped seed grow prostrate on the ground, and they stayed green and continued to mature seed for a good 30 days after my trellised vines were pulled up. They didn't set alot of pods, but the pods that did set were fat and healthy. This may be because the ground held warmth over the night while trellised vines suffer windchill. It may also be because the beans set secondary root attachments here and there, like squash vines do, for extra nourishment. They did resist being pulled up, but I did not check carefully enough to be sure it was all tendril attachment and not secondary rooting.

Thanks for the replies. I should have googled DTM; when I did just now I found a new bean seed company

Here is a link that might be useful: E5Ranch bean seed co

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 12:33PM
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Regarding seed pods shattering, if groundcloth, like a water permeable weed barrier, is laid down earlier it might be possible to recover some clean unsprouted seeds.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 12:38PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

The OP says, "There were lots of blossoms and a few young pods..."

After pondering that again, I believe none of the pods ever got large. That would correspond in a way with my experience. I had lots of blossoms and the vines were still making blossoms at the end of the season. The pods were late though and many did not mature even to the point of using them as shellies, to say nothing of dry beans.

The pods which did mature were large, thick, tough and green. I saw no evidence of shattering, even though there were a few overgrown ones I had overlooked when harvesting. I think l james would have found large pods if any had attained mature size.

"For heat-loving plants (including limas) only the warm days count."

That's a crucial point for us in Northern locations, zeedman. I must remember it and take it into account when considering DTMs.


    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 2:59PM
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Calcium deficiency is one of the reasons for poor production of been seeds in the pods.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2008 at 10:44PM
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