Love to eat soybeans and want to grow some on your own? If you have a green thumb, this should not be a problem. However, if this is the first time you are trying your hand at it, I am here to help. This free-branching legume can grow as large as 36 inches in length, but only if you know how to ensure it does.
How to Grow Soybeans
Soybean plants are fairly easy to take care of. In fact, if you are able to cultivate bush beans, you can maintain a sizeable soybean crop as well. However, the worst thing you can do is rush planting – if the weather is chilly, the seeds will not germinate and make sure you have a large space. You will not get a substantial crop, otherwise.
Here are the steps that worked for me when I wanted to grow organic soybeans:
Step 1 – Select the Right Soybean Seeds
Contrary to popular belief, there are literally thousands of soybean varieties, but three are the most popular among home growers. So, if you want the edible variety, go for green soybean seeds, if you want to dry out the soybeans later, go for the black ones and if you want to make soy milk or flour, plant the soybean seeds of the yellow variety. For this guide, we will be using the seeds for the green variety. These are the most succulent and flavorful out of the other beans, which I am sure you will use as a side dish in several delicious recipes later on.
Step 2 – Choose the Perfect Soil
The best type of soil for soybean plants is called loam. It drains well and does not pack too tightly, so your plant will have room to grow. If the loam has a lot of clay in it, mix some mulch or peat moss (http://clslandscapesupply.com/what-are-compost-loam-and-peat-moss/) in it to make it drainable. The best loam will prevent weeds from choking your soybean plant for a healthy yield. Your garden may already have peat or loam in it though, so you may be able to save money (https://homeguides.sfgate.com/tell-peat-soil-loam-soil-70698.html).
Step 3 – Choose the Right Planting Time
The best month to plant soybean seeds is during the month of May, especially when the soil is not overly wet. Plus, before planting the seeds, make sure that the soil is at the right temperature i.e. between 60° and 70° F. The beans are not frost-tolerant and will not germinate if the temperature drops too much.
Step 4 – Add Nutrients to the Soil
Your soybeans won’t be healthy if the soil does not have a good balance of nutrients in it. To ensure this, add fertilizer to the soil you are using in the seedbed, such as compost or aged manure. The pH of the soil should be between 6.0 and 6.8 (https://harvesttotable.com/how_to_grow_soybean/). Plus, make sure you plant in an area that gets plenty of sunlight.
To get a healthy soybean plant, make sure you add nitrogen to the soil, particularly bradyrhizobium japonicum (https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/bradyrhizobium-japonicum). Just place the seeds in a bucket and spread the bacterium all over it before mixing with a small shovel. You can plant the nitrogen-infused seeds in 24 hours into the soil.
Step 5 – Plant the Seeds
Sow the soy bean seeds one or two inches deep and about two to four inches apart. Make sure you plant them in rows that are 24 to 30 inches, apart from one another. Then, water the seeds just enough to make the soil around them moist. Overwatering may cause the seeds to develop cracks and they will germinate poorly. Companion plants (https://www.burpee.com/gardenadvicecenter/areas-of-interest/flower-gardening/companion-planting-guide/article10888.html) that can make your soy bean crop flourish include celery, corn, potatoes and cucumbers. Do NOT plant the seeds or a soya bean plant with onion or garlic.
Step 6 – Caring For the Soy Bean Crop
Water the seedbed regularly. It takes about two days for the seeds to germinate and the plant emerges from the soil a week after the seeds are planted (https://www.hunker.com/12519766/how-long-does-it-take-for-soybeans-to-grow). The plant is at its most vulnerable at this time and can get damaged easily if the temperature drops or if it is not protected from pests, such as rabbits.
Once the soybean plants sprout from the soil, remove the weaker plants to allow the rest to flourish. Cut at the ground level and don’t disturb the roots. Plus, remove weeds regularly or they will choke your soybeans and ruin the crop. Once the plants of the soybeans get larger, you won’t have to worry about weeding.
Plus, you don’t have to water your soybeans throughout the growth stage. Soybeans need additional water in three stages – when the soybean plants are growing, when the pods start to develop and when flowers appear. Water the plants frequently during these times but just enough to keep the soil moist.
Step 6 – Harvest the Soybeans
Soybeans mature during September. That’s when the pods turn green and the seeds become plump and full. Do not let the seeds of the soybeans turn yellow before harvesting them. Just pluck out the entire pod from the soil when you harvest. A healthy and full mature pod is about two to three inches in length.
And that is how you plant, care for and harvest soybeans!
- To remove the seeds from the pods, you need to blanch them. Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil on the stove. Fill a bowl halfway with water and fill the rest of it with ice. Place the pods in the boiling water on the stove for five minutes. When time’s up, take them out with a spoon and plunge them immediately into the ice bath. Allow the pods to remain in the bowl for five minutes before taking them out.
- Remove the beans from the pods using your hands. Just pinch both ends of a pod to ease open the seam. Do this gently or the beans will fly out all over the place. Bury the empty, nutrient-rich hulls in your garden as compost.
- Shelled soybeans can be kept in the refrigerator for a week. You can also freeze or dry them to make each bean last longer. If you do it properly, the beans can last for 10 to 12 months.
Q: How long does it take to grow a soybean?
A. It takes soybeans three to five months to mature enough to be harvested. The duration may change, according to the type of soybean seeds you plant.
Q: Where do soybeans grow best?
A: Soybeans grow well in cool and temperate environments, but the crop can flourish almost anywhere, provided it has access to ample sunlight and water. Plant soybeans when the temperature reaches 60°F.
Q: How do I grow my own soybeans?
A: Refer to the steps mentioned in this guide to learn how you can grow your own soybeans.
Q: Do soybeans need a trellis?
A: Unlike other types of beans, soybeans don’t grow very high so you won’t need a trellis or any kind of support.
Q: How deep is too deep when it comes to planting this bean?
A: Growing soybeans may be simple, but the smallest mistake can ruin a crop. One of the most common ones involves soil depth. If you plant the seeds deeper than two inches, they will run out of carbohydrates and can get infected as well. The best depth to plant soybeans is one to two inches. Just make sure that the soil you are planting the seeds in drains well or your seedlings will get waterlogged and may not germinate.
Q: How many soybeans are in a single pod?
A: A healthy soybean will have about 2.5 seeds but if the seeds germinate under stressful conditions (such as poor soil quality or in dry soil) the number can drop to two or less. Just follow the tips that are mentioned in this guide to ensure you get a bountiful crop. Nothing is more frustrating than popping open a soybean only to find a few measly beans inside especially when you have to spend months taking care of the plants before you can harvest.
Growing soybeans is not difficult and is actually a lot of fun once you get the hang of it. If your soybean crop is not growing as well as it should:
- Make sure the temperature is just right.
- Water carefully and frequently.
- Use nutrient-rich soil which drains well.
- Keep pests at bay.
If you have any questions about growing soybeans or any type of bean for that matter, mention your query in the comment section and I will help any way I can.