Planting a Garden of Variety

April is National Garden Month.   Although it might be a few weeks before I actually till the soil, planting preparations are underway.  I’ve already purchased the seed packets that I need.  Now I’m eagerly awaiting a trip to the Mennonite greenhouses where I’ll pick out tomato and pepper plants, as well as my annual flowers.

Edamame Plant

Each year I look forward to trying something new in my little garden.  Last year it was sweet potatoes, and the year before I grew three types of potatoes: red, white and blue ones.  This year I’m trying my hand at growing edamame.  (Pronounced “ed-a-mommy.” If you don’t like my phonetics, you can listen to a pronunciation here.  I had so much fun listening to it that I saved the link in my favorites!)

Edamame are green soybeans that are harvested at the peak of ripening, right before it reaches the hardening stage.  Because they grow in clusters on bushy branches, they’re aptly named: eda means “branches” and mame means “beans” in Japanese.

These “bush soybeans” grow larger than bush green bean plants and tend to flop, according to the limited research I conducted online.  Since I like my garden to look as neat as possible, I’ll probably put up a few stakes and strings to keep my edamame upright.  I’ve also read that edamame is great for container gardens, so encourage your non-farming friends and relatives to also give it a try!  Growing edamame is also a great children’s activity, and research shows children are more apt to eat what they helped grow or make.

It seems only fitting to promote soybean consumption as April is also National Soyfoods Month.  Send me your soyfood recipes, so we can feature them this month.