ISBN 0-98099432

Page 1

In Japan you can get commercially produced Nattō with many different bean sizes,
and levels of firmness. These are usually clearly laid out on the packaging (if you
can read Japanese). Outside of Japan, getting the Nattō you like the best may
require that you grow the beans yourself. This is a short guide on how to do just
that.
Next, you will need to know which variety of soybeans you want to grow. There are
two considerations when choosing the variety, the first being what type of beans
are available to you which can grow in your area. For this you must take into
consideration both the climate and the mineral content of the soil, since both of
these can have significant effects on crop production.
In cooler climates, early germination and maturation is key to a successful soy
crop. Soybeans are slower growing and they require warmer weather and more
time to mature than most garden beans such as bush beans, snap beans and wax
beans. You may want to consult your local grange, farm bureau or the agricultural
department of your local university to determine the best varieties of soybeans for
planting in your area and approximate planting dates.
As a general rule of thumb, it is best to plant a few days after the last frost,
whenever the soil temperature is above 15°c (55°f) and there is no longer any risk
of freezing.
The second thing you need to think about is what type of beans you want to use
to make Nattō. The size and hardness of the beans are primary issues. Soybeans
come in many sizes, with some being quite large, and others quite small. Choosing
just the right one is important to making the best Nattō for you. Some trial and error
might be necessary to determine which beans you prefer.
It is also possible to plant several varieties of soybeans in one crop, however the
different emergence (5-10 days) and harvest times (62-100 days) for each variety
may cause hassles later on. Differences in the varieties chosen can also mean
major differences in plant height from 50cm (20in) to around 189cm (74in).

By Hadrian Mar Élijah Bar Israël

The Return of a Prehistoric Food Source

Nattō 納豆

Growing Soybeans

No matter what size or shape of beans you’re looking for, make sure to start with
certified organic G. max beans. Making Nattō from chemically contaminated
soybeans can pose a serious health risks. Since most governments allow certain
levels of chemical contamination, in the form of pesticides and herbicides, to
persist in commercial crops, it is highly recommended that you either grow organic
soybeans yourself, or purchase them from a certified organic source.
The three problems effecting seed germination and emergence (when the
seedlings come up through the soil) are low temperature, soil crustation and seeds
which have been planted too deep. These three factors, more than almost anything
else, effect the fruit yield of the soy plant.
Soybeans should be sown 5cm (2in) apart in rows 50-60cm (20-24in) wide and
3cm (1.25in) deep. The soil should be composed of sand, silt, and clay in a
relatively even concentration (about 40-40-20% respectively). They should be
planted in full sun light, somewhere they will not become shaded by other plants.

Ⓒ2016 – Kenkō Shubbansha 康出版社– All Rights Reserved

By Hadrian Mar Élijah Bar Israël, B.Sc.Med,

La Maison de Sano Publishing, 2009.

ISBN 0-98099432

Natt 納豆 The Return of a Prehistoric Food Source

Growing Soybeans

Page 2

If you live in a humid climate, you should make sure that the plants will get plenty
of air circulation in order to prevent Downy Mildew from the Peronospora
manschurica fungus.
When you prepare the soil for planting soybeans, you should add manure and
compost before making the rows. Otherwise manure and compost can be put on
the top of the rows and then mixed in thoroughly with a rake or other implement
Once the pods are about 5cm (2in) in length, you can harvest a few to make Edamamé ( 枝
豆, Japanese = “twig-beans”). Remembering not to touch or harvest the plants while they
are wet, so as not to transfer moulds or viruses to the plants. In China these are known as
Maodou (毛豆荚, Chinese = “hairy bean pod”). Edamamé is a dish made from soy bean
pods boiled in either salt or regular water. Edamamé beans must still be green on the
inside.
prior to planting. Once the beans are planted, you can re-fertilise every couple of
weeks, taking care not to cover or damage the growing plants.
It is important to water the rows well after planting, and keep them damp most of
the time. This will prevent soil crusting (when a hard crust forms on the surface)
which will make it difficult for the new seedlings to emerge. Be sure to give the
rows a good soaking a few days after planting if there has been no rain.
Generally speaking, legume plants are not hardy, and wet soil can rot soybeans,
so it important not to over water once the plants have emerged. They should be
watered in approximately the same time and quantity as you would water tomatoes
in your area.
Plants grow best in the environment and in the environmental conditions where
they initially evolved. This is true of soy, which comes from East Asia which is
genetically ‘programmed’ to survive in the soil and atmosphere there. That’s why
it is a good idea to inoculate soybeans with Rhizobium japonicum the first time they
are planted in a new location. Rhizobium japonicum is a natural ‘nitrogen fixing’
bacteria present in East Asian soil, which is lacking in other parts of the world.
Rhizobium japonicum has a natural symbiotic relationship with soy and it’s
presence in the root systems of the soy plant cause there to be small nodules on
the roots.
Because of its nitrogen fixing ability, soy is sometimes used as a cover crop, to
provide nitrogen to the soil. A cover crop is a crop that is grown for the sole purpose
of tilling it back into the soil at the end of the season in order to provide nutrients
to the soil. Soybeans can be grown as a cover crop without inoculating them. Then
the next year another soy crop can be planted in the same place taking advantage
of the nitrogen left in the soil from the previous cover crop.
This nitrogen fixing is caused in part by soybeans very complex root system. Soy
plants have extensive roots with small nodules growing on them containing
Rhizobium japonicum. This is the symbiotic bacteria which produces nitrogen for
the soil. It is important to protect this root system intact throughout the growing

Ⓒ2016 – Kenkō Shubbansha 康出版社– All Rights Reserved

ISBN 0-98099432

Page 3

cycle, by not disturbing the surrounding soil, such as one might do when pulling
mature weeds. It is therefore necessary to pull weeds when still in their infantile
state.

Akihabara Publishers

You can buy freeze dried Rhizobium japonicum through a garden wholesaler or
nursery, and use it to dust the seeds before planting. This is the best way to assure
the largest possible fruit yield. If soy roots are already present in the soil from the
previous year’s crop, there is probably enough Rhizobium japonicum and nitrogen
present in the soil that soybeans can be planted again in the same place without
needing to inoculate the seeds.

By Hadrian Mar Élijah Bar Israël, MBChB.

The Return of a Prehistoric Food Source

Nattō 納豆

Growing Soybeans

About 85About eighty five (85) days after planting, the pods will be ready to
harvest. You will want to open one pod with a knife, to make sure that the seeds
have changed from green to cream coloured.
Then harvest the pods by hand, using a pair of scissors to cut the stems
approximately 2cm (1 inch) above the top of the pods. Then boil the pods in water
for 20 minutes, and allow them to cool. Once, they are cool, the pods may be
squeezed gently, moving your fingers down the length of the pod in order to
remove the beans. The beans may then be left to dry, and put in containers and
stored for up to a month in a cool, dry place without further preparation.
The remaining plants, pods and other leftovers from the soy bean production may
be put back onto the rows and tilled into the soil to provide nutrients for next year’s
crop. If you want to take advantage of the high amounts of nitrogen Soybeans
leave in the soil, the crops can be rotated from year to year, leaving the nutrients
for use by other crops.
Growing soybeans is easy, but not fool proof however. They are susceptible to
diseases like Anthracnose, bacterial blight and infection by the mosaic virus. Also,
several species of beetle including the Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica) and the
Mexican Bean beetle (Epilachna varivestis) enjoy eating soy, as do many varieties
of aphids (greenflies).
If the weather in in-climatic, it is also possible to plant soybeans indoors, in
greenhouses, in full containers of sand, by inoculating the seeds with Rhizobium
japonicum, extra nitrogen is helpful if growing indoors.

Ⓒ2016 – Kenkō Shubbansha 康出版社– All Rights Reserved

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