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shelleybean April 20, 2007 10:49 AM

Pole Limas
Okay, I have seed for Willow Leaf White, King of the Garden and Carolina/Sieva. I only have room to plant one variety. Any opinions on which one it should be? I've read Carolina is a slightly smaller plant and easier to keep under control so I'm leaning toward this one, but I could be persuaded to try one of the others. Thanks in advance for any input.

Gimme3 April 21, 2007 01:46 AM

ShelleyBean....i grow either Sieva or Willow Leaf every season, just to keep the seed fresh. Never have grown King of The Garden.

Sieva , to me is a plant capable of greater ranginess, running ambition, than a Willow Leaf, but not in a drastic way greater than a WL. A Sieva produces a slightly thicker lima, and a wider hull than a WL, but both are wonderful tasting white Pole limas. Baby limas seem to be a greater make-up in the shelled product with WL, which i like it better, for...although one can pick Sievas earlier and accomplish the same, i guess, but they are more difficult to shell at that size in a Sieva.

Yield with either of these CV's is greatly affected by planting density. If you plant them too thick, you will have a massive green fence (i grow them on a barb-wire fence usually, although this season they are going to share Tomato occupancy) ...with very few beans. They will smother their own blooms with over-laden heavy foilage if planted too thick. I know it sounds crazy , but for this reason only, i dont plant them any closer than about 18 inches apart.They LOVE light, and it affects yield also, in relation to the afore-mentioned density issue. Both CV's are easily trained, opportunistic Climbers, they'll go anywhere you lead them to if they can get light there. They grow and get along wonderfully with a Tomato in support, and the best yields i ever saw came from just a few plants that hopped across the walk-path and started climbing them. Superb-yielding, long season CV's..both are...and they really crank it up, late in the Season.

Good Luck an Good Eatin them...)))

shelleybean April 21, 2007 08:28 AM

Thanks, Gimme. Very good point about the ease or difficulty of shelling beans themselves. And good info on the spacing of the plants. So Willow Leaf is now in the lead. Anyone else?

garnetmoth May 2, 2007 08:46 AM

Im trying a pole lima from SSE this year, Ill report on it if its any good :-)

Ruth_10 May 5, 2007 11:48 PM

Gimme, interesting point about planting pole limas too close. My DH planted a row the summer before last (Sieva, I think they were) and the spacing was probably about 4" between plants. It turned into a green wall of foliage, but like you said, no pods to speak of. Maybe I can talk him into trying again with the wider spacing.

shelleybean August 12, 2007 08:23 PM

Reporting back now...I went with Willow Leaf White. What a great butter bean!!! I did space them further apart than my snap beans, but I only went to about 8 inches apart. They did great. Got lots of sun and because of the narrow leaves on this variety, I can easily see all the pods when picking. They shelled pretty easily and taste great. We ate the first of them tonight. Mine went in a bit late because I was waiting for my sugar snap peas to finish up. I doubt I'll even bother to grow another variety now, we are so happy with the Willow Leaf. Thanks for everyone's suggestions! :D

garnetmoth August 20, 2007 09:27 PM

sounds great Shelley, i grew 3-color lima and everything suffered in our heat this year. spaced too close but got some seeds to try again next year.

shelleybean August 21, 2007 12:38 PM

It's been really hot here too, and no rain to speak of through June and July, but the WL has done well. Still really healthy. I'm waiting for another round of pods. I think I'll leave these in the garden until frost and see what else I get. Good luck with next year's beans! :)

Raymondo September 5, 2007 06:40 AM

I'm envious of your choice of limas. Here in Oz I've managed to find only 4 cultivars - a white one from the supermarket shelves which is only a small bush, Christmas Lima, Madagascar Bean and Red Lima. As I love beans, especially shelled, I'll be trying them all this season.

cosmicgardener September 5, 2007 07:27 AM

Raymondo, I think Helen in Hobart had some Zebra Lima beans. I'll be talking to her tomorrow and will ask for you. Eden advertises Zebra climbing beans.

Raymondo September 5, 2007 07:33 AM

Hi Cosmic,
Thanks for that. I'm pretty sure the Zebra bean from Edens is a common bean. I'd be interested to hear what Helen says about her limas. I did manage to source a bush lima called Jackson Wonder but unfortunately they didn't germinate. The search continues.

cosmicgardener September 5, 2007 09:40 AM

There's an interesting site at

which lists beans ( and other plants) in what seems to be an attempt to come up with something definitive. They list Zebra as a Lima Bean and source it from Seed Savers. Whether this is the same as the ones Eden have begs the question. There is a good picture.


Raymondo September 5, 2007 06:25 PM

Beautiful looking beans in the photos. I'll do some more investigation.

shelleybean September 16, 2007 02:28 PM

I've been camping for two weeks and went to check the Willow Leaf plants. They were loaded up with pods and I was able to pick quite a bit. There are still a lot of pods I'll be able to pick as soon as they fill out. My plants are still nice and healthy. :D

Gimme3 September 16, 2007 10:10 PM

ShellyBean....i never quit thinkin or learnin on Sieva and Willow Leafs...)))they are a plant cv i jus caint quit ever tryin to perfect, an they teach one....every season...))) it never ends.

if u ponder...what ...its natural home must be like (Guatemala)...growin it...when u see it turn Happy...makes ya think...of the natural habitat/conditions...that it evolved to thrive in.

This learnin once now i really likes water, and a temperate climate...not extreme heat coupled w/drought. My Willow Leafs are expressing total coverage, awesome vine growth, once our temps here jus got back to bein reasonable an we got a little rain. Pod set was absent thru-out our extreme,... AWFUL august, but its gettin strong now. I kinda think this...the blooms get sterile in high heat,...and...for reasons yet unknown but troubling ...there is a dire lack of busy pollinating insects...maybe August hurt them bad, too. Any ways, tho, here come the Home-stretch run, an its lookin up...)))

Its a lima worth all the learnin...))) One day...we gon get it Rite !...))) (Dont be thinkin dry , left in the field cornstalks will sufficiently trellis it...they wont ...))) But dead tomato growin areas will, an it sho benefits late season tomatos, here, as a canopy.

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