Other types of beans
Lima beans are named after the city of Lima, Peru, which used to be a major shipping point for their distribution. Limas require very warm soil temperatures to germinate (about 70° or higher), so wait until about April in the south — or even June farther north — to plant these beans. Limas come in both pole “climbing” and bush type, so make sure you have the right type for your garden situation.
There is some debate as to whether planting lima beans “right side up”– with the eye of the bean facing downward — in heavy soil is necessary for good germination. If you have a small area, I recommend making the extra effort to plant them this way. However, if you are planning on growing a lima bean bonanza over a very large area, just plant extra beans.
Unlike many other types of beans, limas can be eaten fresh young and dried for storage when mature. Harvest limas for fresh eating when they are fully grown but still green. Once the lima pods turn white, they are considered mature and too hard for fresh eating. However, the dried, white beans can be stored for cooking much later by canning or freezing them in plastic bags.
Hot, dry climates are best for the maturation of dried limas. Climates with high humidity may leave you with molded pods full of useless fungus where there used to be beans. You can grow limas in more humid climates, just don’t count on a bumper harvest in the Pacific Northwest. In an annoying twist, limas sometimes refuse to set pods if the weather is dry and hot with little humidity during the blooming phase. Picky little critters — kind of remind me of teenaged children — but at least the lima beans actually amount to something!
Photo courtesy of jasonlam at Flickr.com.
Cherokee trail of tears
This bean was carried not just by the Cherokee Indians, but by many members of the eastern Native American tribes on their forced exile to western reservations. This climbing, rather drought-tolerant variety produces dry beans similar to black beans. This bean was used in a variation of the “Three Sisters” cultivation method developed by Native Americans.
These beans are native to the Southwestern United States and may have been in cultivation for well over a thousand years. They are similar to a pinto bean, pink in color, and can be cooked in much the same way.
Soybeans are a marvel of human engineering and the natural world working together. They provide all of the essential amino acids people need. They can grow in just about any soil type and climates as varied as dry desert to temperate to monsoon. There are so many soybean types and species — as well as new types created almost everyday — that no one has a complete count of them all!
Soybeans were even used in the 1930s by Ford motor company to produce the plastic parts in Ford vehicles.
There is a debate among the medical community regarding whether soybeans present health concerns to some. It is thought that some components of soy, such as the soy isoflavones daidzein and genistein, are related to a chemical that seems to mimic estrogen. Most people who eat soybeans in moderation won’t need to worry about these, but you might want to consult your health care professional for concerns.
Soybeans require a different culture than most other beans and are not covered in this article.
Photo courtesy of Kanko* at Flickr.com.
Broad Beans and Fava Beans
These beans are more adaptable to cool weather than most beans, so they’re often grown in cooler parts of the country or during fall in the south. They come from a different background than other beans. Their cultivation dates back to the prehistory of the old world — Eurasia/Africa. Even today, they remain much more popular in Asia and Europe than in the Americas.
Photo courtesy of alsjhc at Flickr.com