The Henderson Dwarf Lima Bean
This is a truly American heirloom and a truly American story. Lima beans are native to the western coast of South America, primarily Peru. The “Lima” name, though pronounced differently, is from Peru’s capital city of Lima. We don’t know when exactly Limas were introduced into the US, but Americans were growing them as early as the 1700s. Until the 1870s all lima beans were pole beans, but an African American farmer, while tending to his lima bean plants on his farm near Lynchburg, VA, discovered a dwarf plant among his pole plants. He sent the seeds to a Richmond seed merchant who then sent the seeds to Peter Henderson, one of America’s greatest seedmen. Henderson began a breeding program with the seeds he received and offered the first seeds for sale in 1883 as The Henderson Dwarf Lima. They were an instant success. To this day, this variety is the most popular home garden and market lima bean sold. The plants are incredibly productive and vigorous. The beans are delicious. Only in America could a lowly (no pun intended) little lima bean plant make its way from a little farm in rural Virginia to become the most popular lima bean of all time.
Note: I included this seed description here even though it won’t grow in Alaska’s cooler summers. At least not in my part of Alaska. But I loved these as a kid, we grew them often, so they are sort of a blast from the past that I couldn’t resist.