Soybean plants grow in 3 phases: germination, maturation and flowering. Germination begins within 48 hours if the conditions are right and continues for around 7-10 days before the next stage of maturation begins. Maturation takes around 8 weeks and results in a plant that varies in height from about 50cm to 125cm. The flowering phase begins when the days become shorter than about 13 hours although this varies depending on the variety of soybean. The resulting fruit is the soybean pod which contains 2-4 beans, between 5 and 10 mm in diameter.
The mature soybeans can be used for a variety of things, including making in to tofu and eating whole, although you can’t eat raw soybeans. As they contain about 20% oils, they can be used in soaps, inks, crayons and clothing. They can also of course be used for candle making.