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The Tale of Two Lima Beans | In the Weeds

By: Jamie Seitz
Ever plant a mystery seedling, only to be sorry later? Yeah, me too...

Seed-starting for kids

When my youngest daughter was in preschool, her class did some garden seed experiments to learn how plants grow. As soon as the tiny paper cups sprouted tiny plants, the preschoolers inevitably lost interest and the teachers tired of the constant bickering over whose turn it was to water the seeds, and two seedlings were sent home with each kid to get them out of the classroom. Unfortunately, our cups lost their labels by the time we arrived at home and my daughter’s memory of what they had grown consisted of, “Maybe a watermelon? Or a sunflower?”

Friends, they were none of the above. After a quick call to her teacher, I was told they could be either lima beans or marigolds. Much different than watermelons and sunflowers. Anyhoo, my daughter was adamant about planting her two mystery seedlings in our garden and so one afternoon she and I planted them next to the broccoli. To be honest, the seedlings were looking rather waterlogged and half-dead by the time we put them in the soil (the preschoolers' one job was watering their seeds and believe me, they took this to heart), and I truly didn’t expect they would survive, so I didn’t give much thought to where we were planting.

The seedlings reveal their true nature

Several weeks later, we were in the garden doing some weeding, when my daughter noticed her plants were really growing. And I mean really growing! It was pretty obvious we had gotten two lima beans over marigolds and after some quick Googling, we decided they would be OK where they were planted.

And they were fine — mostly fine — but if I would have read a little bit further, I might have learned that some lima bean varieties are the climbing kind. But I hadn’t read that far, and it wasn’t until a week later before I realized the lima bean plants had begun to weave their sneaky little tendrils up the broccoli and over the eggplants and reaching toward the zucchini. This looked like trouble.

My daughter must have sensed my hostility towards her precious lima beans and came sprinting across the yard to see what I was scowling about. When I explained that we might have to take the lima beans out because they were climbing all over the other vegetables, she begged me to leave them in because she loved lima beans. Now, friends, she’d never tried a lima bean up to that point in her four short years and I knew that, but I left them for her, rigging up a sad excuse for a trellis that proved not to work a bit. Within a few weeks, those two lima beans had climbed over everything, bending my broccoli sideways, tangling the eggplants, and almost choking out the zucchini.

You would think that our thriving plants would have produced a bountiful harvest of lima bean pods, wouldn’t you? We grew seven. Seven pods, and a handful of lima beans. And guess who announced upon eating one that lima beans were gross? You guessed it. My daughter.


When Jamie is not detangling her garden from renegade imposter lima bean plants, she’s usually taking long walks in her neighborhood and planning the next epic road trip vacation for her husband and four kids.


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Published: June 6, 2022
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