Collection: Soybeans

Glycine max

Most of the soybean varieties we offer have become quite rare and are no longer being grown on a commercial scale. Supplies are therefore extremely limited and we sell out quickly. When we do run out of a variety that you are interested in, be sure to add yourself to the waiting list. It helps us determine demand and to decide which to allocate growing space to this summer. 

Originating in Northern China thousands of years ago, soy is one of the first cultivated crops. Some information indicates that it was being grown as early as 11,000 B.C. and it has been an important food crop throughout Asia ever since. Soy was domesticated, selected and bred for specific traits resulting in a huge diversity of varieties and subsequent uses. Some of the classical foods that have resulted are tofu, edamame, tempeh, miso, natto, kinako, and tamari.
Sadly, in North America, although a huge commercial crop, soy is overwhelmingly grown in a mono-cultured farming model, using genetically altered seed (GMOs). The resulting harvests are then primarily used in animal feed or processed into component parts like protein meal and oil to be used in manufactured "food." See the bottom of this page for more information.

As genetically engineered varieties of soybeans have taken over the commercial market, fewer and fewer standard varieties remain available; especially to home gardeners and small farmers. The Victory Seed Company is aggressively seeking out family heirlooms and older, open-pollinated varieties that have not been contaminated by genetic drift. Adding soybean varieties to the list of species that we are working to preserve is a project that we are very excited about. As home gardeners and modern homesteaders are becoming increasingly interested in their personal food production, a good, plant-based protein source is important. We believe that raising soybeans is a viable solution.

Since this is a relatively new project for us, please do check back from time to time as more varieties and informational material becomes available. It should be noted that all of the varieties that we are offering are being grown and harvested by hand. All are organically grown (little "o") on our Certified Naturally Grown farm. Your purchase of these soybean varieties is not only funding our seed variety preservation work, but also helping to support the small, independent seed growers we have teamed up with.

Additionally, since these are all hand produced and not from some gigantic corporate factory farm, they are naturally fairly rare and in limited supply. Therefore, in order to get them into as many gardens as possible, as well as to further promote seed saving, seed counts per package are generally enough for a small harvest to see if you like the variety, or to grow out for seed for your next garden.

Cultivation: Soybeans are a tender plant and should be sown after all danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed to a least 58ºF. Planting them at about the same time as corn is a good rule. Sow seeds about one inch deep, three to four inches apart. Although you can plant in rows, they can be planted densely and allowed to form a canopy. This will help control weed growth.

Soybeans are tolerant of drought and poor soil since they affix nitrogen in the soil as other legumes. They will, however, benefit from fertile soil. The seeds are harvested after they fill out the pods and used in this "green" stage as you would garden peas or Lima beans. They are tender and cook quickly.

Since soybean flowers are perfect (self-fertile) and cross pollination is almost non-existent, saving seed is easy. Allow the pods to fully develop and dry on the plants.

More Information About Traditional Soy Foods:

Edamame (pronounced "ed-uh-mah-may"): Fresh green soybeans that are boiled (or steamed) in the pods and salted.
Miso: A salty, cultured, soybean-based condiment. Often used to flavor soups and sauces.
Natto: A fermented whole cooked soybeans. Natto is often used as a breakfast food accompanying rice. A source of vitamin B12, often missing in vegetarian diets. See 'Canatto' for more information.
Soy sauce: A very common flavoring or condiment. It is a brown liquid made from fermented soybeans.
Soy milk: A beverage made from ground soybeans that has been strained to remove the solids.
Tempeh: Whole soybeans, often combined with other grains, and fermented and formed into a solid cake. Another source of vitamin B12 for vegetarians, it is also used as a protein source.
Tofu: Curdled soy milk is pressed to remove much of the liquid. Tofu is also know as soybean curd and used as a protein source in recipes.