Also known as edamame or soya, soy beans are one of the oldest known crops. They are often served at Asian restaurants as an appetizer. Home grown podded beans, lightly steamed, are a delightfully sweet treat. Many consider it unsafe to eat soybeans raw.
Plant the seeds after danger of frost, about 1 inch deep and 6 inches apart. We learned the hard way that the rabbits love these tender plants, so be sure to give them protection.
Depending on the variety of soybean you choose, you should be able to harvest about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 months later.
We grew Envy, a green short season variety. According to the Johnny's Select Seeds catalog, although they are an earlier variety they are not as flavorful as one called Butterbeans. They also describe the variety Toya as an early bean with good flavor, and Black Jet as the best for using as a dry bean. We have grown Black Jet in the past with good success. It might be a tough decision choosing a variety for next season.
Unlike many other legumes, soybeans produce the majority of their crop all at once. They grow upright, making harvesting a simple process. You can simply yank the plant out of the soil and pull all the beans off.
Soybeans can also be allowed to dry on the stalk. Harvest by removing the plant when the pods have lost all their fresh color, place upside down in a paper bag, and 'thrash' by shaking the bag about. Most of the beans should fall easily from the plant.
Be sure they are completely dry before storing. Soak to reconstitute the same way you would any dry or 'soup' type bean.
Botanical name: Glycine max
Yield: Envy produced 12-20 pods per plant, with 2 seeds per pod. Some varieties produce up to 4 seeds per pod.
Plant height: 2 to 2.5 ft.
Harvest: Fresh when the pods are swollen, or dry on the plant.
Storage: Dry or freeze.