Many people have enjoyed delicious hummus or discovered an intriguing, healthy chickpea brownie recipe and asked one of two questions – how to grow chickpeas, or what are chickpeas?
Are chickpeas the same as garbanzo beans? Yes, chickpeas (Cicer arietinum), often known as garbanzo beans, are an ancient crop produced throughout India, regions of Africa, and the Middle East, for hundreds of years.
The tiny bean shapes are legumes with a nutty and earthy flavor, mild enough to be used in many different dishes. Though they are often confused with the lentil or soybeans, they are not the same.
Everything to Know about Growing Chickpeas
How long does it take chickpeas to grow? Chickpeas are cool-season crops with a long growing season, as they require at least three months of chilly, but not frosty, weather to mature. Garbanzo beans are typically grown in the winter in the tropics and between spring and late summer in cooler and more temperate climates.
Chickpeas are commercially grown in India, with about 80-90% cultivated there. California is the leading producing state in the United States, but Washington, Montana, and Idaho grow this tasty legume too.
Garbanzo beans double as a dry crop or green vegetable, and the bean seeds are available in dry form or canned. They’re heavy in folate and manganese and protein and fiber, making them a tasty and nutritious choice for making hummus, adding to a salad, or even using as a base for healthy desserts.
Growing chickpeas is fun for any grower and adds a unique and versatile crop to your harvest.
Planting chickpeas and other different kinds of beans and legumes adds diversity to your garden and gives you access to a fresh crop of superfoods grown right at home. Chickpea plants come in two varieties, the Desi and Kabuli.
Desi produces smaller, darker seeds with a rougher coating, while Kabuli produces larger light-colored beans with a smoother outer layer more commonly seen in grocery stores.
Every gardener can try their hand at growing chickpeas, no matter their location and climate. Accommodate the chickpea plant’s long growing season by learning how to sprout chickpeas indoors to get a head start on germination and growing without risking damage from unexpected spring frost.
Chickpeas or garbanzo beans may have an unusual appearance, but these protein powerhouses have a deliciously nutty flavor and are quite nutritious. Skip the canned kind and cultivate your own at home for the ultimate taste.
In addition to eating these tasty legumes, you’ll be able to prepare Aquafaba, or chickpea water, to use as an egg alternative in your favorite recipes.
Planting Chickpeas – Location
Garbanzo beans are similar to snap beans or soybeans in terms of growth. They reach a height of 30-36 inches and produce green pods on the upper half of the chickpea plants. In contrast, vanilla bean plants can grow to almost 100 feet long!
Chickpeas may not always do well with transplanting. When planting peas, it’s preferable to sow the seeds directly in your garden when soil temperatures are between 50 and 60°F if possible, similar to planting bush beans from seed.
Always check the last frost date in your area before planting to ensure an unexpected spring frost doesn’t kill your new plants. Choose a well-draining spot in the garden with full sun exposure.
Soil for Planting Chickpeas
Like when you grow a pinto beans plant, chickpeas prefer light soil, so remove any pebbles or weeds and add some sand if needed to lighten the composition of your potting soil. They also favor rich soil dense in nutrients, so mix organic matter or aged compost into your soil before planting.
Do not plant chickpeas in the ground where green manures have recently grown or soil heavy in nitrogen. High nitrogen content will result in green leafy growth rather than seed production. Add potassium and phosphorus to the plot before planting.
Sowing Chickpea Seeds
When growing peas from seed, sow chickpea seeds one inch below the soil level in rows with the garbanzo bean seeds 18-24 inches apart. Leave 3 to 6 inches between rows. Cut chickpeas at the base when they reach 3 inches tall to thin them out, leaving 6 inches between each plant.
Garbanzo beans have a shallow root system, and this small spacing when planting chickpeas allows them to grow and support each other as they mature. Water the seeds thoroughly and keep the soil moist.
How to Grow Chickpeas Indoors
Though it is less risky to sow chickpea seeds directly in your garden, this is not always possible. Due to their long growing season, it sometimes helps to give your chickpea plants a boost by starting them indoors until spring frost passes and outdoor growing conditions become favorable.
Store chickpea seeds in an airtight container, and do not soak before planting. If your outdoor growing conditions are not ideal, knowing how to sprout chickpeas to grow chickpeas indoors is crucial.
Start your chickpea seeds indoors or sprout black beans four weeks before the average last frost date for your area. Depending on the conditions, germination and sprouting begin after 14-21 days.
When you are growing peas of any variety it is important to avoid disturbing the roots once the seedlings have matured. The way to grow garbanzo beans is to sow seeds 1/2 inch deep in each biodegradable paper pot, with one seed per pot. When the seedlings are at least 4″ tall, transplant them, being careful not to disturb the roots.
How to Grow Chickpeas – Watering
Water your chickpea plants only when the top layer of soil is dry and keep the soil moist. Avoid watering the chickpea plants from directly above to keep leaves and stems dry and help avoid fungal disease.
Set a thin layer of mulch around the beans to keep them warm and damp. Garbanzo beans, like all legumes, leach nitrogen into the soil, so they don’t require any additional nitrogen fertilizer.
Growing Chickpeas – Pests
Aphids, bean beetles, flea beetles, and mites damage chickpeas. Manage pests with a simple insecticidal soap solution to help keep your chickpea plants infestation free.
Combine in a spray bottle and spray thoroughly over chickpea plants, taking care to cover every leaf and stem surface.
Pinch and remove larger infestations by crushing eggs or parasites between your fingers and thumb to kill them. Aphids carry the bean mosaic virus. Keep your garden free of debris to prevent pests from establishing a home or overwintering there.
Harvesting your chickpea plant varies depending on if you want fresh or dry garbanzo beans. For fresh pods, gather while they are still green. For dry seeds, wait until the plants turn brown before harvesting and allow them to dry on a level surface.
Harvest the beans as the pods split open. Rinse dry chickpeas before cooking, then soak overnight and drain. Make hummus, or add them to soups, salad, or stew.
Growing chickpeas isn’t tricky, but it takes a little more time than other vegetables because of the plant’s long growing season. This cold-season annual needs just over three months to mature, though, in return, you get a delicious legume rich in nutrients and versatile for cooking.
Garbanzo beans grow in a bushy plant with dark green leaflets, a pleasing addition to your garden aesthetically, as well as a productive one. Chickpeas are excellent fresh and easy to dry and store or can, making them a sound choice for your home garden.
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