This year I'm growing edamame, an East Asian soybean that is picked immature before it ripens. This was a total experiment and I had no idea what to expect, but they've actually been incredibly easy to grow and are already starting to develop bean pods. Take a look:
These beans have a small root system so I was able to plant them in containers pretty close together. This 14 inch pot is successfully holding 9 healthy plants. For comparison, I'm using the same sized pot to grow ONE eggplant plant. Talk about using your space well!
The edamame plant grows upright and does not need any support like my string beans do. It first developed tiny purple flowers (so tiny that I almost missed the flower blooms!) and then the flowers push out fuzzy green seed pods. I'm really into the fuzziness factor. That's pretty much the best part.
Here's a look at the plant in context of the garden (edamame are in the 2 pots in the bottom right corner of the photo):
I'll harvest the soybeans when the leaves have turned a slightly yellow color and the beans inside the pods are plump. I plan to eat half my harvest fresh and then freeze the rest to use throughout winter. To do so, just blanche them for 2 minutes before putting them in the freezer.
Ok, now here's the good news: you still have time to plant your own edamame! If you plant seeds now (near NYC), you should have a harvest at the end of summer/early fall. Do it, do it! So easy! Fuzzy plants! FUZZY PLANTS!!
If you want to grow edamame, look for seeds labeled Green Soybean, though some seed companies simply label the seeds "edamame" for easy identification. I found my seeds at Whole Foods, but you can also get them online-- check out this seed company specializing in varieties of edamame.