How to Grow Soya Beans

Soya beans are twice as rich in protein as any other vegetable, and contain more even than prime steak. They have been one of the most important sources of protein in the Far East for thousands of years.

Since the Second World War, the United States has increased its production of soya beans sixfold — partly for the manufacture of textured vegetable protein, which resembles meat.

The crop has proved difficult to grow in Britain, but the introduction of the variety ‘Fiskeby V’ gives a greater chance of success.

In the kitchen, the versatile soya can be cooked whole as green beans, shelled like broad beans, or used dried like haricot beans.



Planning the crop

A warm site is more important than the state of the soil. In a good summer, soya beans may yield twice as heavily as in a cool season, so help to create the warmest possible conditions by choosing a sunny, sheltered site.

Prepare the ground in the autumn or winter before sowing by digging in well-rotted manure or compost at the rate of a bucketful per square yard.

On heavy soils, leave the ground rough for the frost to break down. On all but the most alkaline soils, give a top-dressing of carbonate of lime at the rate of 8 oz per square yard (240g per square metre) during the winter, leaving this on the surface of the soil.

Before sowing, rake in general fertiliser at the rate of 2 oz per square yard (60g per square metre).


How much to grow

The yield will vary considerably, depending on the weather, but two or three rows, each 20 ft (6 m) long, will provide a family with regular pickings of fresh pods in August and September, as well as dried beans for winter use.

If part of the crop is sown in mid June, picking will be spread over a longer period than from a single sowing in May.



The only variety readily available is ‘Fiskeby V’, which grows to a height of 12-30 in. (305-760 mm). It carries up to 40 pods per plant in a good summer, but has only half that height and yield in a poor season.


How to grow soya beans

Sow in the open in the middle of May in the south, but not before the end of May in the north. If preferred, sow half the crop in June to extend the harvest. In light soil, sow in drills about 2 in. (50 mm) deep; in heavy soil, make the drills only 1 in. (25 mm) deep.

Place the seeds 3 in. (75 mm) apart. Allow 9-12 in. (230-305 mm) between rows. This close sowing is acceptable because soya plants form only a single stem, instead of branching like French beans.

Cover the rows with netting or cotton to protect them from birds. The seedlings will appear about three weeks after sowing, depending. On the temperature and the amount of moisture in the soil.

Alternatively, sow the seeds in 3in. (75 mm) pots of seed compost – four to a pot indoors or in a cold frame – during the second week of May. Set them out singly in their final positions, 3 in. (75 mm) apart, in the first week of June. Water the plants in, and make sure that they do not dry out during the first few days while they are forming new roots.

Sowing in pots prevents the seeds from being eaten by mice and wood pigeons, although the plants get off to a slower start than those sown where they will grow.

The plants will grow from 12-30 in. (305-760 mm) high, depending on the season, and need supporting with twiggy sticks to keep them upright.


Pests and diseases

Bean seed fly, Black bean aphid and slugs and snails are the most likely pests.

Soya beans are generally disease-free.


Harvesting and storing

Soya beans may be picked at two stages – first, for eating fresh, either shelled or cooked in the pod, and later for drying and storing.

In August or September, pick the pods while they are still green but when the seeds inside can be seen and felt. Usually, the pods on a plant are ready at the same time, and it may be more convenient to cut the stem at the base and remove the pods in the kitchen.

As the season progresses, the pods look more cream-coloured and the foliage takes on autumn tints. Shelled beans can still be cooked at this stage, but not the whole pod.

By the time the seeds are ripe the foliage will have died away. Pull up the plants, complete with their roots, tie them together and hang them in an airy place such as a shed or garage to complete the drying off.

Shell them when the pods are absolutely dry, and store the beans in tins or bags for use as needed.

They can be cooked like other dried beans.


Preparing and cooking soya beans

The young green pods, in the immature stage when the beans are just showing through, may be cooked and served like mange-tout peas with butter and chopped herbs. After the immature stage, green soya beans must be shelled like broad beans.

This is rather more difficult than with other beans. In order to open the pods, first blanch them for 5 minutes in boiling, lightly salted water. Drain the beans in a colander, let them cool slightly, then break them in half so that the beans can be squeezed out of the pods.

Put the shelled beans in a pan of boiling, lightly salted water, bring back to the boil, cover with a lid and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until they are tender but not mealy. Drain, and serve tossed in butter and chopped parsley.

Like other pulses, dried soya beaus should be soaked in cold water overnight or for at least 4 hours. After soaking, drain the beans and then simmer for about 45 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper and coat with melted butter or a white sauce. Alternatively, mash the beans to a purée and cream with butter or milk, or use as a basis for a thick soup or as a savoury pie filling.

07. June 2011 by admin
Categories: Beans, Gardening, Vegetable Growing | Tags: | Comments Off on How to Grow Soya Beans


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: