Soybeans are annual plants that produce edible seeds commonly used for many industrial and commercial purposes. Vegetable oil and various meat and dairy substitutes are made with edible soybeans. Plants can grow from between 8 inches and 6 feet in height, depending on the environment and soil. The fruit, or edible portion of the soybean, grows in 3-inch-long pods that are harvested in late summer. The flowers are small and inconspicuous, and are usually purple, pink or white in color. Edible soybeans can be easily grown in most temperate regions around the world.
Sow soybean seeds during late spring after the soil has warmed and the danger of frost has passed. Ensure the planting location receives six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day. Spread 1 to 2 inches of organic compost over the planting site and use a spade to incorporate it into the soil to increase fertility.
Plant each seed in a row about 2 inches deep in the soil. Space each seed 4 to 5 inches apart to allow plenty of room for growth. Allow 24 to 28 inches between each row of soybean seeds so the plants do not block the sunlight. Water thoroughly after planting to collapse any air pockets in the soil.
Water edible soybeans once per week, allowing the soil to dry slightly between applications. Water only on weeks that do not receive at least 2 inches of rainfall. Do not splash water on the foliage while watering, as moist leaves are susceptible to fungal diseases.
Fertilize edible soybean plants once per year in midsummer using a balanced 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer. Water before and after application of the fertilizer to prevent root burn from the influx of nitrogen. Follow the manufacturer's dosage instructions for proper use.
Harvest edible soybeans during late summer when the pods are fully grown but before they turn yellow in color. Pick each soybean pod from the plant by pinching off the stem. Keep the soybeans in a cool location such as a refrigerator or root cellar until ready to use.