How to grow soy beans and what to do in the garden this December
This December plant annuals, de-head flowers and try growing soy beans.
Words: Jane Bellerby
• Plant out annuals to fill any gaps and provide ongoing colour once the first spring flush is over in the garden.
• Feed lilies as they approach flowering time.
• De-head spent flowers throughout the garden to encourage continued blooming.
• Keep all plants, both ornamental and edible, growing steadily as the weather continues to warm with the application of liquid fertiliser or a few handfuls of compost, aged manure or blood and bone.
• Make liquid fertiliser by adding weeds to a drum, topping it up with water and leaving it to ‘work’ for about a month. Keep it covered (but not airtight) to keep out flies. Stir every couple of days and serve to your plants diluted to the colour of weak tea.
• Consider gifts from the garden as the festive season approaches; potted plants, herbs (fresh or dried), wreaths, bottled liquid fertiliser etc.
• Hardly a task, but remember to take the time to enjoy your garden. Walk in it, read, sleep, play in it and simply sit and enjoy.
HOW TO GROW SOY BEANS
Soybean seeds are available in home garden and cropping quantities from Kings Seeds (www.kingsseeds.co.nz)
Conditions: add good quality compost to well-drained, loose soil.
Sow: late spring – early summer, when soil temperature is above 15°C, 3cm deep if soil is heavy, 5cm deep if light, 8-10cm apart, rows 45-60cm apart in full sun. Make sure all threat of frost has passed – soybeans prefer daytime temperatures above 20°C – and keep soil moist until germination.
Days to germinate: 5-7 days
Thin: cut smaller seedlings off using scissors so plants are 10-15cm apart.
Care: keep well watered during flowering (around 4-5 weeks after planting) and as pods are forming (around 6-7 weeks after planting), mulch well.
Height at maturity: 75cm
Harvest – edamame: Day 45+or so, depending on variety
Harvest – soybeans: Day 90-100 or so, depending on variety. Wait for leaves to turn yellow, then brown, then fall to the ground. Pods should be brown. Harvest on a fine day – cut plants off at the base (leave the roots in the soil as they will be full of nitrogen-fixing bacteria) and hang dried plants/pods in a dry, cool place like a garage or porch.
If you want to store your soybeans – they are dry enough to store when one breaks apart when you bite it – you can thresh them by putting them in a sack, then beating it with a stick to separate the beans from the pods. Winnow by dropping beans/pods from a standing height, using a light breeze or fan to blow away debris. Store in a cool dry place and turn sacks weekly to help prevent weevils. If you live in a humid area, you need to control the humidity to stop the beans sprouting prematurely.
HOW TO COOK EDAMAME
Edamame are just immature soybeans, picked when the pods are firm, plump and bright green, around halfway through their growing cycle (day 45 or so).
You can shell the beans out of the pods before you cook them – follow the ‘rip it, zip it and pop it’ method here but it’s easier to cook them first.
Steam pods, or boil up a pot of lightly salted water, then add the pods and cook for about 5 minutes. Drain, then cool under running water to stop the cooking process before the beans go mushy. Squeeze the beans out of the pods and dip in salt (a lemon wedge goes well with this) or soy sauce, or add a knob of butter to a bowl of them, or add them to savoury dishes. Don’t eat the pods.
If you’re really keen, you can make edamame ice cream