Edamame, or soybeans, are an ancient native crop from the Orient, and while it's not a very popular garden crop, many people have started growing it for its health benefits. Edamame are quickly becoming a favorite on Asian menus and sushi restaurants, and so, if you're a big fan of edamame, why not grow your own? Today we'll show you how to grow edamame, or soybeans. Surprisingly enough though, they're very easy to grow, much like regular bush beans.
Edemame is actually a Japanese word that translates to “beans on branches”. This is because of the way the edemame plant looks. The pods are in bunches on branched, bushy plants. Edemame beans taste like a cross between a lima bean and a pea.
When you're consuming an edemame plant, you're eating the edemame beans, not the edemame pods. Each pod will usually have 2 or 3 beans that are packed with vitamins and minerals.
How to Grow Edamame or Soybeans
For edamame, or soybeans, to grow successfully, the soil temperature needs to be at least 50F, but ideally around 70F, otherwise seedlings just won't grow.
Also keep in mind that at their mature stage, soybean plants can grow up to 2 feet tall, so space is very important to them!
Planting Edamame or Soybeans:
- Choose a site with full sun and wait until all danger of frost has passed until you can plant.
- The edemame plant does not like the cold.
- Edemame plants are pretty forgiving when it comes to soil. They're drought tolerant, don't mind clay, and also do ok with some shade.
- But for best results, use soil that's enriched with compost.
- Make rows 2 1/2 feet apart with 2-3 inches in between each plant.
- Sow each seed about an inch deep. Be patient when waiting for seedlings to appear: soybean plants mature a little slower than other garden vegetables.
- Choose good draining soil and be careful not to over-water. Too much water can cause big problems and may result in a crop that won't grow at all.
- For a continuous harvest, plant edemame every few weeks.
Caring for Soybean Plants:
- Soybeans like full to partial sun.
- Stay away from over-watering, and only water when soil is dry.
- Use a good quality soil with good drainage.
- Add a layer of mulch once plants are around 4-6 inches in height. This is to keep moisture and prevent weeds from popping up.
- The plants will grow to 2-3 feet in height and in windy areas, may need to be staked.
Harvesting Edamame or Soybeans:
- Harvest the edamame (the pods of the soybeans) when they are still immature and green.
- Make sure to harvest BEFORE the pods turn yellow.
- You can harvest simply by picking each pod off the plant or by removing the entire plant and picking off all pods.