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Lima Help

Posted by maupin z6 So. IL (My Page) on
Mon, Mar 31, 08 at 8:16

I grow snap beans with no problem, but for whatever reason my limas have not germinated in the 10 years since I moved to my Southern Illinois hobby farm.

This year I'm planning to start the limas in flats and transplant them out. Anyone ever do this? How long from starting to planting out? Suggestions?

My soil is rich and friable, lots of organic matter, amended by 1 ton of compost every fall. I grow tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, watermelons, cukes, spinach, squashes, kale, collards....you name it, no problem. But these limas are pesky.

When I lived 200 miles north of her I grew great limas. When I moved from Zone 5 to Zone 6b the limas are finicky. Whoda thunk it?

I inoculate every year, even though I suspect it is not necessary at this point.

Any experienced observations would be most welcome.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Lima Help

The only thing I can think of is that you planted them too early in cold soil. You need to wait at least two weeks after planting snap beans. They are really a warm weather crop. But in warm soil, they emerge quickly. Even quicker if you pre soak. They are attacked by several soil borne diseases but no more so than regular snap beans. They will transplant as long as put them out immediately after emergence. The per plant yield is so low, however, that I would never recommend it. The baby limas are much easier to grow than the large types, but it is not because of emergence. Both readily germinate when soil conditions are right.


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RE: Lima Help

I tend to agree with Farmadilla; cool soil - or excessively moist soil - would cause poor germination. It's also possible that in a new location, the seeds were stored where less than optimal conditions caused deterioration of the seed prior to planting. Limas are especially sensitive to heat & moisture during storage.

To grow limas reliably in my Northeast Wisconsin location, transplants are a must. I use either Jiffy strips 32's (for small-seeded types) or 3" peat pots (for larger-seeded limas), with a sterile soilless mix (such as plug mix). They are started 3-4 weeks before they would normally be direct-seeded. Starting limas as transplants overcomes most of the germination issues, and also guarantees at least some harvest if Autumn comes early.

The per plant yield is indeed low... for bush types. Pole limas, however, are quite another matter. Last year, from 12 plants spaced 2 feet apart, I harvested about 30 pints of green-shelled beans, and over 2 pounds of dry seed - and that was from an heirloom. Some limas (such as "Seiva" or "King of the Garden") will exceed that, in a good year. Pole limas are definitely worthwhile started as transplants.


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RE: Lima Help

I have similar experiences growing lima beans here in the south. The only difference is that I grow the small seeded pole types because they are so productive. Off of a 100 ft row, I harvested 5 gallons of dried seed, then the plants set a second crop. I harvested about 2 or 3 gallons from the second crop for winter eating. This may not sound like much, but you think about shelling 5 gallons of lima beans by hand!

DarJones


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RE: Lima Help

If your soil is very rich and you plant limas later than your other big seeds, maybe the corn seed maggots have just come into their own at that time. Transplants would fix this problem.


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