Mary's Veggie Garden

June 28, 2012

Growing Edamame Soy

Filed under: Beans,Gardening,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 11:15 am
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Do you eat edamame soy? Then consider growing it in your vegetable garden. Soy is easy to grow and has few pests in Dutchess County, NY.

Edamame Soy ‘Butterbeans’ seedling June 19, 2008

Soy likes full sun and warm soil so it’s best to wait until early June to plant. In D.C., N.Y. sowing on May 23 can result in 50% germination due to cold soil, but plant seed from the same packet on June 7 and almost every seed grows. (Yes, I did this.)

Edamame soy produces stocky, bush type bean plants 2′-3′ tall. I plant my edamame in three rows running the length of a 4′ or 5′ wide bed. The plants eventually touch shoulders and shade the soil, preventing weed germination. I also mulch heavily between the rows with shredded leaves to preserve moisture and prevent weeds while the plants are small.

Edamame soy planting in mid-July.

All the flowers on an edamame soy plant open within a few days, therefore all the pods are ready for harvest about the same time. Harvest pods when the beans completely fill the pod and you see the shape of the beans in the pod. Don’t delay too long, because the beans continue to mature and will eventually dry in the pods.

Harvest edamame soy when the pods are well filled and the shape of the beans shows through the pods.

My Harvest Process 

At harvest time I cut the plants off at the base with pruners or loppers. I trim off the leaves because the pods are more visible on a bare stem. The leaves are recycled back into the garden as mulch. Next I either pull off the pods or use scissors to snip them off.

Edamame harvest: clockwise from top left: plants awaiting processing, bucket of leaves, stems stripped of both leaves & pods, scissors, stems with pods, and center – bin of harvested pods.

It is extremely difficult to remove the beans from uncooked edamame pods, and not worth the effort. Steam or boil the pods for 5-6 minutes then cool in cold water. Squeeze the pod and the beans will pop out easily. Sometimes twisting the pod helps open it.

Removing the beans from the steamed edamame pods.  The variety is Shirofumi.

For fresh edamame, sow small quantities of seed every 7-10 days throughout June. Most varieties of edamame have a long maturity and plantings after mid-July could run into cold weather before harvest. A large planting can provide edamame to freeze for the rest of the year. I make a big planting which I harvest over several days. Evenings I steam the harvest, then we (my family) squeeze the beans from the pods. I freeze the beans on cookie sheets then pour them into containers for storage. If you have a lot of freezer space you can freeze the beans in their pods.

These days there are several varieties of edamame available. ‘Envy’ is common. It has a fairly short days-to-maturity but it’s flavor is mediocre.The other varieties I’ve tried all have a longer maturity but their flavor is much better.

Rabbits love edamame, they eat the beans out of the pods.

And those pests I mentioned? Rabbits love edamame soy and they will sit in the patch, snipping off pods, eating out the beans and leaving the pods behind. Rabbits will also eat young plants. They are the reason my deer netting fence has chicken wire around the bottom. Chipmunks will dig up the seed or nip the top off of a seedling.

If it’s a bad year for Japanese beetles, the beetles eat everything, including soy, but most years they do very little damage. Mexican bean beetles generally ignore soy, and eat it only as a last resort, after the green bean plants are gone.

Many ask ‘What do you do with edamame?’ The frozen shelled beans thaw quickly so it’s easy to throw a handful on a salad and they are also a good way to add protein to winter soups.

I wrote this article for the June 2012 Dutchess Dirt, an email publication from Cornell Cooperative Extension/Dutchess County (NY). I’ve extended the article for this blog publication and added several pictures.


  1. Yeah, the rabbit/s ate all my seedlings, zero soy beans this year. Actually I was blaming the birds.

    Comment by Norma Chang — June 28, 2012 @ 12:49 pm | Reply

  2. Yum they look so nice and green…….these also make a great snack…..well for me, you know who won’t try them.

    Comment by Kim — July 1, 2012 @ 9:35 pm | Reply

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