To germinate properly, lima beans need warmer soil than snap beans. They also need higher temperatures and a longer growing season for a good crop. Lima bean seeds require soil temperatures of at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit for a minimum of five days to germinate. They should be planted two weeks after the average date of the last frost.
Plant bush beans every two weeks to extend the harvest, or start with bush beans and follow up with pole varieties. Plant seeds directly in the garden, an inch deep. For bush beans, plant the seeds 2 inches apart in single rows or wide rows.
Seeds of pole beans should be planted four to six inches apart in rows 30 to 36 inches apart. Or, plant them in inverted hills, five or six seeds to a hill, with 30 inches of space around each hill.
For pole bean varieties, set the trellis at the time of planting to avoid disturbing the roots. The lima bean seed sometimes has trouble pushing through the soil, although this should not happen if the soil is well worked.
Harvesting Lima Beans
With this type of bean, the maturing seed is eaten, not the entire pod. Pick pods before the seeds have become tough. Ripe pods usually pop open when you press them along the seams.
Types of Lima Beans
- Bush varieties: Fordhook, 75 days, is a large-seeded lima bean with high yields. Henderson Bush, 65 days, has white beans, three or four to a flattened pod.
- Pole varieties: Burpees Best, 92 days, has Fordhook characteristics: thick, 41/2-inch pods with high yield. Prizetaker, 90 days, has 6-inch-long pods with three to five beans.