Edamame is a nutritious vegetable that’s popular with commercial farmers, but hasn’t caught on with the home gardener. That’s unfortunate because edamame, more commonly known as green soybeans, are easier to grow and more productive than the popular lima beans found in many backyard gardens.
Reasons to Grow Edamame in the Home Garden
Soybeans are touted for their nutritional value, and the fresh shelled beans are delicious as well as healthful. Farmers include soybeans in their crop rotations to harvest the dry beans, but also to help improve fertility by increasing the nitrogen levels in the soil.
You can grow edamame and receive the same nitrogen boosting benefits in the home garden. Just as when growing other types of beans, you’ll get higher yields and see more nitrogen produced in the soil if you apply nitrogen-fixing inoculant to the edamame seed at planting time.
The nitrogen-fixing bacteria comes in the form of a dry, black powder which is applied to the moistened edamame seeds just prior to planting them in the garden. Be sure to select a strain of bacteria inoculant that is identified for use on soybeans.
Soybean Planting and Cultivation
Edamame can be raised in conventional rows or be grown in raised beds. Plant the seed about one inch deep and six to eight inches apart.
Soybeans don’t require much attention while they are growing, just supply adequate moisture and control the growth of weeds. As with all beans, avoid handling or working around soybeans when they are wet to avoid spreading diseases among the plants.
The edamame pods grow in clusters that should be harvested while still green, as the beans become plump and fill out the pods. The fresh beans can be shelled like lima beans, or they can be cooked right in their pods by placing them in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes until tender.
For dry soybeans, or if you’re growing for seed allow the pods to fully mature and dry on the plant until they are brittle. Popular edamame varieties include: Hakucho, Butterbean, Envy, Beer Friend, and Sayamusume.
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