Thursday, June 5, 2008

Growing Edamame

On Tuesday I planted out four rows (about 80 feet) of green soybeans, what the Japanese call Edamame. These are nutty and sweet tasting, high in protein, and when combined with other ingredients they make a nutritious dish. I started growing them in the mid-1980s, trialing a variety called Butterbeans from Johnny's Selected Seeds. I've experimented with several other varieties since then, but Butterbeans is the best for flavor, reliability, and yield. As with peas, I use an earthway seeder purchased for about ten dollars at auction. Its great advantage is that I don't have to bend over and drop the seeds in myself, although for nearly twenty years that is what I did, planting about 1,500 feet of bean rows including dry beans as well as the green soys. The harvest is time-consuming as the beans need to be shelled after they are parboiled, then frozen in small batches to put into soups and stews or eaten as a side dish with garlic and olive oil. In addition I planted out a row of green snap beans (Provider) and a row of yellow wax beans (Golden Butterwax). The best green snaps are a variety called Levi Robinson but they do better when the soil is a little warmer, as do the dry beans. Yet my organic farming neighbor Nathan, who lives ten miles away on the mainland, gets his beans in ten days before I do. Maybe he is operating on global warming time while I am still working the calendar that worked for me in the 1980s. His microclimate is a few degrees warmer than mine at this time of the year, though.

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