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Growing Soybeans, Freezing Soybeans

Growing soybeans is a great way for homesteaders seek food self-sufficiency, or any other avid gardener, to add protein to their diet.

| March/April 1980

  • 062 grow soybeans - pod plucking
    Plucking pods from soybean stalks. 
  • 062 grow soybeans - roots and plant
    LEFT: The root nodules of a soybean plant store nitrogen. RIGHT: Harvest soybeans when the pods are plump and bright green, but before they turn yellow.
  • 062 grow soybeans - three panels
    TOP: Douse the beans in cold water after boiling them. BOTTOM LEFT: Removing beans from their hulls. BOTTOM RIGHT: Transfer the beans to containers, seal them, and place in freezer.
  • 062 grow soybeans - bowl of beans
    A bowl of beans ready for washing and blanching.

  • 062 grow soybeans - pod plucking
  • 062 grow soybeans - roots and plant
  • 062 grow soybeans - three panels
  • 062 grow soybeans - bowl of beans

We don't have cows, goats, chickens, or any other livestock ... but we do raise protein! Our crop of the valuable nutrient comes from our garden . . . in the form of green soybeans for eating and freezing.

However, before you go out and plant your own plot of meat substitute, you should be aware that there are two types of soybeans grown in this country: a field variety that's used for livestock fodder, oil, and industrial products . . . and vegetable soybeans, which are bred for flavor.

It's the latter type of legume, of course, that you'll want to grow for table use.

The Choice Grows

Years ago—when we planted our first healthful. money-saving protein crop—the few catalogs that included the seed usually labeled soybeans as "novelty" vegetables. Nowadays, though, many folks have discovered (as the Chinese did over 2,000 years ago) the value of growing soybeans as people food, and most seed companies offer a number of varieties listed under "vegetable" or "edible" soybeans.

When you're ready to select the type of soy you want to plant, keep in mind that the crop will require an average of three months of warm weather to mature. Therefore, if you live in a cold climate, you should seek out an early-ripening breed. I can't of course know which soybean variety will grow best in your area, but—after experimenting with several kinds—I can say that the cultural tips in the seed catalogs have proved to be pretty accurate.

Having faced the fact that frosts sometimes appear sooner than expected on our Wisconsin farm, we started planting two or three soybean varieties "just in case." So far, the precaution hasn't been a necessary one . . . as all our crops have ripened before winter set in. On the other hand, by growing a number of different types, we've been able to make sure that our beans don't all mature at the same time ... which allows us to put them up in smaller batches.

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