FROM an article by the writer on Soya Beans in “HEAL THYSELF” for April, 1934, regarding their future in this country the following may be quoted:.
“The seeds will soon be acclimatized to produce good crops in England.”
“Besides providing a delightful new vegetable, the seeds saved should pay for all the trouble, and you will be able to say I grew them before the British farmer thought of doing so.”.
The two harvests that have since taken place have turned the above prophecy into accomplished facts.
There appears to be no reason why every enthusiastic food reformer with a small garden should not now try his, or her, hand at growing Soya Beans. The offering of acclimatized seeds, green, yellow, and brown, by the “Pitman” Health Food Co., for the first time in their March, 1935, catalogue resulted in their supplying a hundred packets within a few days, the demand continuing up to planting time, May 1st, when supplies were exhausted. For the next year or two it appears that it will pay both amateur gardeners and English farmers better to grow the beans for seed rather than for eating and manufacture.
Later it should provide the gardeners with a splendid addition to their bean crop and the farmer with an additional profitable crop for the oil crushers and a large number of other important purposes. The writer who has made a hobby of gardening for more years than he cares to count, considers that his 1935 crop of soya beans is the first thing he has ever grown that has paid him financially, but he has never grown anything with this end in view, but rather for health, exercise and the enjoyment obtained by providing fruit and vegetables better and fresher than he could otherwise have secured.
Four varieties were planted on May 1st, 1935, one row of black, five rows of brown, five rows of green, five rows of yellow. All seeds were planted 1 1/2″ to 2″ deep and about 3 1/2″ apart in the rows. Rows of yellow 33″ apart, green 27″, brown 30″, and black 36″.
Fourteen days later, May 15th, nearly 100 per cent. showed above the ground. Several night frosts followed and later spells of very dry weather and later still much rain and heavy winds, yet about twelve weeks after planting no plant appeared to have been adversely affected.
YELLOW soya beans at the end of August were about 24″ in height and all growing with one stem only from the ground, with no sign of blossom. These plants were the tallest of the lot and appeared to be the weakest, the leaves were also the greenest.
GREEN. The leaves of these were the greatest contrast in colour and darker than any other variety. The plants bushy and more like well-grown French beans, commencing to show a small white blossom. Height 14″ only, but like the brown and black appeared to be very strong and healthy.
BROWN. 18″ in height. Growth nearest to the habit of the yellow. One stem only from ground with much blossom, ground covered nearly as well as green.
BLACK. 16″ in height. Only kind that showed signs of leaves having been eaten by caterpillars or the like. Three or four strong stems grown from main stem, about 1 1/2″ from ground. Commencing to blown with a small pretty white flower, that later changed to blue. The same remarks apply to the other varieties in bloom.
There was not one withered plant showing in the whole patch, size about 45 feet by 27 feet.
On August 4th height of yellow beans was 30″ to 34″. Green 12″ to 18″. Brown 20″ to 24″, and Black 18″ to 24″.
Condition at end of August. Plants very strong. Yellow just started to bloom. Green seven stalks, pods 2″ long, six pods to stalks. Brown chief bloom on top of stalks, small pods formed 1/2″ long, much blossom below. Black, much less forward and very few set. Pods 1/2″ in length. Poorest growth of all for quality.
RESULTS OBTAINED IN HARVESTING THE DIFFERENT VARIETIES.
Number of seeds planted.
BLACK ….. 93
2 3/4 ozs.
3 1/2 ozs.
1 lb. 5 ozs.
8 lbs.10 ozs.
6 lbs.10 ozs.
7 lbs. 7 ozs.
THE NEW VEGETABLE FOR ENGLISH GARDENS.
To all those wishing to grow soya beans the following information may prove of special interest:.
BLACK BEANS: These are usually grown for cattle feeding by farmers, not for the beans as such, but there is no reason why they should not be grown for table use, as apart from colour if this is an objection there appears to be on other. In fact samples of the four kinds of tinned English beans were sent to Mr. C. C. Abbott, the noted Physio-Medical Practitioner, of Leigh, Lancashire, and he pronounced the black beans to be the best.
These usually have about four shoots from the main stem. The number of pods on each plant varies greatly, but some bear over fifty. The pods are small and very few contain three beans, far more only one. Average beans to a pod about one and a half.
BROWN BEANS. Number of stalks on main stem four to five. Number of pods on each plant 45. Average number of beans in each pod about two and a half.
GREEN BEANS. Number of stalks on main stem four to five. Number of pods on each plant 20 to 40, but few under 20 or over 40. Most on one stalk found in batch, 45. Number of beans in pods one to three, more threes than ones. Average about two and a half per pod.
YELLOW BEANS. These were the last to both flower and ripen, while the brown were the first. It is very likely, however, that these would have been at the top in yield had they been given a fair chance. In the first place, on account of their position they were largely deprived of the morning sun, and further, the rows were arranged too close together.
Owing to the height of this variety there should be not less than 3 feet of space between the rows. If planted in a windy neighbourhood such as Vitaland, when a few inches high fine soil should be hoed round the plants for support. This is preferable to planting deeper than 2 inches. Another thing that affected the return on these particular beans was the fact that they ripened very late and irregularly and were blown over by the wind with the result that field mice had a large portion of the crop. These mistakes are not likely to be repeated.
RESULTS FROM DIFFERENT DISTRICTS.
There is no doubt that the returns from the different varieties vary according to the district in which they are planted, but of the hundreds of packets supplied to applicants from Lands End to John o Groats for planting in small gardens, we have received nothing but encouraging reports. Amongst others Dr. Valentine Knaggs, of Wimpole Street, London, W.I, wrote of the three varieties, green, yellow and brown:.
“I have had such a splendid crop that I thought you might be interested to know.”.
Another interesting letter was received from Mr. G. J. Carpenter, from which the following is culled:.
“Situation: Slopes facing South of Alkham Valley, near Dover, warm and sunny. Fairly light soil, chalky, loam well dug in with small quantity of (so-called) native Guano, nothing else. Rows planted 1st May, east to west (correct aspect north to south). Up in three to four weeks, Brown being first.
Results. From 40 brown beans harvested September 8th, 752 seeds, 4 1/4 ozs. in weight.
From 20 yellow beans, harvested September 18th, 477 seeds, 3 1/4 ozs. in weight.
As I was doubtful of effect of English September, I gathered them probably too early and dried them in greenhouse. The result of being harvested prior to being quite ripe is shown by their slightly shrivelled appearance.”.
RICH GROUND UNNECESSARY.
No preparation of the ground prior to sowing is required, neither is rich ground necessary if lime is applied. Best results are obtained in light sandy or clay-loam type of soil containing lime, phosphate and potash. Further repeat crops on the same ground will prove beneficial rather than otherwise, which is opposite to most crops of English vegetables cabbage as an example. The ground, however, should be well dug some weeks prior to the planting, which should take place as near as possible to May 1st.
The soya beans as received from Manchuria (unlike the English grown beans that are practically without blemish) require handpicking. A quantity of this refuse was kibbled and dug into the ground some weeks prior to planting, a dressing of lime being the only other fertilizer used or needed.
It is important to remember for the benefit of succeeding crops, the plants should be harvested by cutting not pulling, the roots being left in the ground. It is advisable, also, to dig the leaves into the ground together with the stalks and pods when decayed. This treatment will also be found of great service in England applied to French, runner and broad beans, peas and similar crops.
After sowing but little further attention is needed apart from the ground being kept quite free from weeds.
THE SOYA BEAN AS A GARDEN VEGETABLE.
The young sprouts can be used for salads. A writer in the daily press recently remarked, “These make the most delicious salad vegetables I have ever tasted.” The young, uncooked beans while green can also be used for salads. As soon as the green pods reach a reasonable size they can be cooked whole like French beans, the skins not being quite smooth is the only objection.
Later, as soon as the beans are fully grown they can be shelled and cooked like garden peas and will be found of a much more delicate flavour than the dried beans as imported. The crops of each variety are ready for harvesting as soon as the leaves turn yellow and drop off, leaving the pods only on each plant. They can then be allowed to dry on the stalks in the sun or otherwise as found most convenient.
The drier the pods are when beans are shelled the better. After shelling care should be taken to ensure the beans being quite dry prior to storing for seed or cooking. Those used for cooking should be soaked over night and served like haricot or butter beans.
THE FIRST BIRTHDAY.
About May 1st, 1935, two hundred farmers planted acclimatized seed for the first time as a commercial proposition in England, covering in all about 150 acres. A greater number of amateur gardeners also planted soya beans for the first time on or about the same date.
The soya bean plant from habit of many centuries tends to fan or finger shape in the rows, if the plant has started from the seed other than at the angle of the row it twists itself round to get into line. Another fact, learnt in correspondence with Miss Elizabeth Bowdidge, author of The Soya Bean: Its History, Cultivation and Uses, of interest to both gardeners and beekeepers, is that no cross pollination can take place by planting different varieties of soya beans side by side, the flowers being not only self-pollinating but the pollination takes place before the flowers open.