It never ceases to amaze me how fast some plants grow. I looked at my Edamame plants (pronounced ed-ah-mah-meh – Japanese soy beans) this morning and realised that what I thought were flower buds are actually pods! These plants have been in their current bed for exactly one month. They were planted on the 24th of October and I transplanted the seedlings into their bed on 8 November. The flowers are so small that we didn’t even notice them.Edamame are a favourite Japanese snack. These are the type of snack eaten when stopping for a drink on the way home from work. The whole pods are cooked quickly in a dashi stock (made from kelp and shaved tuna) and then served whole. You eat the beans by popping each one out of the whole pod directly into your mouth – something that appeals to the kid in all of us. You have been able to buy the frozen pods in Canberra from local Asian grocers like The Hub for quite some time. When Bishlet told me they had found the seeds available through Diggers (www.diggers.com.au) – sold as Organic Soy Bean (Beer Snack) – we took up the offer to get some as well and grow our own fresh beans. One thing that both Bishlet and I have found is that the seeds that were planted directly into the garden bed (I planted 4 at the same time as those started in pots) have not grown anywhere near as well as those raised in a pot. Of those planted directly into the bed one failed to germinate and a second got eaten at an early stage. The transplanted seedlings are now 30 cms+ tall and by contrast the ones raised in the bed are only about 10cms tall. I am wondering however just how big they will grow. I came across a photo from the early summer 2009 edition of Yasaibatake (translated ‘Vegetable Garden’ magazine) – you can’t keep keen gardeners down even in a foreign language – which shows a man up to his waist in edamame. We purchased this magazine while travelling in Japan earlier this year. I ask you could how could you resist a magazine with the myriad ads for smart-casually dressed, not to mention unfailingly smiling people, using motorised cultivators while their admiring family and friends look on. There are also very charming illustrations throughout the magazine such as this one for companion planting tomatoes and leeks. At the speed I can translate it will take me the better part of the year just to be able to read one of the recipes in the magazine! If nothing else I’ve obeyed my sensei [teacher] and have certainly done my daily Japanese practice today!