It's easy and economical to grow your own lima beans.
Lima beans need warmth, so be sure the soil is thoroughly warmed (late May or even June in many areas) before you plant. It pays to properly prepare the soil. A week before planting spade in a liberal amount of compost, peat moss, or manure, preferably a combination of all three.
If you know anyone raising rabbits, ask for some rabbit manure. It's the best manure available and any rabbit raiser will be delighted to get rid of a sackful or two.
Lima-bean seeds are notoriously difficult to germinate. Soak the seeds in water overnight and be sure that you have extra seeds on hand for filling in any gaps in the rows. Plant the seeds 1 inch deep and 4 inches apart in rows that are at least 18 inches apart.
Be sure to keep them damp until all the plants have emerged from the soil. After that a weekly soaking is usually sufficient.
There are many excellent varieties of lima beans available. Burpee's Fordhook , one of the most famous lima beans in the world, is a dependable producer, but if your summers are extremely hot, Fordhook No. 242 is the bean to plant. Its heat-resistant plants set pods well under adverse weather conditions and it, too , is a heavy yielder.
Lima beans are not bothered by most insects, but are a favorite of the spider mite. If spider mites are prevalent in your area, plant pole limas instead of the bush varieties. Pole limas have far better insect resistance. They mature later than the bush varieties and need a fence, trellis, or chicken wire for climbing, but they will yield more beans per square foot of garden space.
King of the Garden is an old, reliable favorite and a bountiful producer. Christmas is a big yielder as well and is excellent for both canning and freezing. The beans are colorfully striped with red, but, unfortunately, these distinctive markings disappear when the beans are cooked.
Seeds for lima beans are available in most seed racks or write to Burpee Seed Company, Warminster, Pa. 18991. The pole lima, Christmas, is carried by Nichols Garden Nursery, 1190 North Pacific Highway, Albany, Ore. 97321.