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How to Grow Chickpeas, Garbanzo Beans

Chickpeas near harvestThe chickpea or garbanzo bean is a cool-season annual that requires about 100 days to reach harvest. Sow chickpeas in the garden about the date of the average last frost in spring or slightly earlier. Chickpeas require a long growing season; to get a head start on the season, sow chickpeas indoors in a peat or paper pot several weeks before transplanting out. Set the chickpea and biodegradable pot whole in the garden when the plant is 4 to 5 inches (10-12cm) tall.

Description. Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans and gram, are regarded as beans, but botanically are neither beans nor peas. The chickpea is a tender annual legume, a bushy plant that grows to about 18 inches (45cm) tall and has pairs of dark green, compound leaflets that look like vetch. Chickpeas have swollen, oblong pods to about 1 inch (2.5cm) long and nearly as wide that contain one or two large, cream-colored, pea-like seeds each. Flowers may be white or violet colored depending on the variety.

Yield. Grow 4 to 8 chickpeas plants per each household member.

Chickpeas planted in row
The chickpea is a cool-season annual that requires 100 or so days to reach harvest.

Planting Chickpeas

Site. Plant chickpeas in full sun. Chickpeas will grow in partial shade but the yield will be reduced. Grow chickpeas in loose, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Add aged compost to planting beds in advance of planting. Avoid planting chickpeas where green manures have just grown or in soil high in nitrogen; this will result in green leafy growth, not seed production. Add potassium and phosphorus to the soil.

Planting time. The chickpea is a cool-season annual that requires 100 or so days to reach harvest. Chickpeas are frost tolerant but grow best where daytime temperatures range between 70 and 80ºF (21-26ºC) and where night time temperatures do not dip below 65ºF(18ºC). Sow chickpeas in the garden as early as 2 or 3 weeks before the average last frost in spring. Chickpeas require a long growing season; to get a head start on the season, sow chickpeas indoors in a peat or paper pot and transplant the pot and plant whole to the garden when the plants are 3 to 4 inches (7-10cm) tall.

Planting and spacing. Sow chickpeas 1½ to 2 inches (5cm) deep, spaced 3 to 6 inches (7-15cm) apart. Thin successful plants to 6 inches (15cm) apart; cutaway thinned plants at soil level with scissors so as not to disturb roots. Space rows 18 to 24 inches (45-61cm) apart. Do not soak seed before sowing and avoid heavy watering after sowing to keep seeds from cracking. Chickpeas allowed to grow a bit crowded will offer each other support.

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Companion plants. Potatoes, cucumbers, corn, strawberries, celery, summer savory. Do not plant chickpeas with garlic.

Container growing. Chickpeas can be grown in containers 8 inches deep, the space required for a useable crop makes chickpeas a poor choice for container growing.

Chickpea harvestChickpea Care

Water and feeding. Keep planting beds evenly moist until chickpeas have pushed through the soil. Water regularly during flowering and pod formation. Avoid overhead watering which can cause flowers and pods to fall off. Mulch when the weather warms to conserve soil moisture. Add aged compost to planting beds in advance of planting. Side dress chickpeas with aged compost at midseason. Avoid adding nitrogen-rich fertilizers to planting beds. Chickpeas, like other legumes, set up a mutual exchange with soil microorganisms called nitrogen-fixing bacteria to produce nitrogen compounds used by the plant.

Care. Avoid handling chickpeas when they are wet or covered with heavy dew; this may spread fungus spores. Keep planting beds weed-free but cultivate around chickpeas carefully so as not to disturb the plant’s shallow root system. Rotate chickpeas and other legumes to add nitrogen to the soil.

Pests. Chickpeas can be attacked by aphids, bean beetles, flea beetles, leafhoppers, and mites. Aphids, leafhoppers, and mites can be sprayed away with a blast of water from the hose or controlled with insecticidal soap. Look for eggs and infestations and crush them between your fingers and thumb. Pinch out and remove large infestations. Aphids can spread the bean mosaic virus. Keep the garden clean and free of debris so that pests can not harbor or over-winter in the garden.

Diseases. Chickpeas are susceptible to blight, mosaic, and anthracnose. Plant disease-resistant varieties. Keep the garden clean and free of debris. Avoid handling plants when they are wet so as not to spread fungal spores. Removed diseased plants; put them in a paper bag and throw them away. Chickpeas are susceptible to many soil-borne diseases; rotating beans so that they do not grow in the same location more than every three years will reduce soil-borne diseases.

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Chickpeas in kitchenHarvesting and Storing Chickpeas

Harvest. Chickpeas will be ready for harvest about 100 days after planting. Chickpeas for fresh eating can be picked when pods are still immature and green; they can be eaten like snap beans. For dried chickpeas, harvest the entire plant when the leaves have withered and turned brown; place the plant on a flat, warm surface and allow the pods to dry. Collect the seed as the pods split. Seeds that will barely dent when bitten are sufficiently dry.

Storing and preserving. Unshelled chickpeas will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week. Dried, shelled chickpeas will keep in a cool, dry place for up to a year. Chickpeas can be frozen, canned, or sprouted.

Chickpea Varieties to Grow

Varieties. ‘Chickpea’; ‘Garbanzo’; ‘Gram’; ‘Kabuli Black’.

Common name. Chickpea, garbanzo, gram

Botanical name. Cicer arietinum

Origin. Southern Europe and India

Learn to grow 80 vegetables: THE KITCHEN GARDEN GROWER’S GUIDE

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86 Comments

  1. When it comes to fertilizing, I wish your site and others would have some home-based translation. I know what the three numbers mean on the fertilizers; what I don’t know is how to translate “adding phosporus” or “potasium” to a product on store shelves. Side dressing organic matterial, is a foreign language.

    • Absolutely the easiest way to feed (fertilize) vegetables and all plants is to add aged compost to your planting beds. Aged compost contains ALL of the essential plant nutrients–the macro nutrients Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium, and the important micro nutrients such as Calcium and Iron. Aged compost can be made in your own compost bin or can be purchased at nearly all garden centers or hardware stores; buy it by the bag. You can add aged compost to your soil by digging it into beds during the off season or by simply spreading it across the planting bed at any time of the year. Add two inches of aged compost to your beds two or three times a year. Mark your calendar to keep track–adding compost to your garden is the best advice anyone can give you. Side-dressing simply means spreading the compost or fertilizer along or around established plants or plant rows. In as short a time as two years, you will have the best soil around–and very healthy crops. If you want more on specific soil fertilizers, go to the Topic Index here and click on to the Plant Nutrients section–you will find articles there that explain what each nutrient does and what you can pick up at the garden or hardware store to get the job done. A box of bag of bonemeal, seaweed or kelp meal will take care of a great many vegetable feeding concerns. Organic or natural products are generally slow-release and will add nutrients to your garden that will last several growing seasons.
      For more on Sidedressing–go to the Topics index and click on Sidedressing.

    • Phosphorus can be added using bone meal. Potassium you can easily get by adding chopped up banana peels to the soil, you can put them in a blender and spread the mush on the ground under your plants. it is best to prep your soil before you plant not after. If you eat chicken with the bones you cae crush them up and put them in your compost pile or in your growing beds.

  2. I LOVE chickpeas! I live in Napa and have never seen any seed packages… do you have to order from a seed catalog or is there a local source you can share?

    • The chickpeas is also called the Southern pea or the garbanzo bean–check your seed dealer or seed racks for any of these. Also check online and you will find several seed growers who list Southern peas or garbanzo bean seeds. Varieties to look for are: Chickpea, Garbanzo, Gram, Kabuli Black.

        • Thanks for this heads up on the “billy bean.” The “billy bean” is the garbanzo bean whose actual name is Pedrosillano garbanzo bean. It is a non-genetically modified bean that is also called the “hummus bean.”

    • I just bought a bag full of fresh garbanzo beans (still in green pods) at my local Mexican store. I planted them less than a week ago and I already have 2 sprouting.

    • I planted dried chick peas from a package of organic chickpeas. They have sprouted and are now about 10cm tall. they are growing in between my strawberries. I hope this works. my first garden 🙂

      • Experience is the best teacher. Sounds like you are doing the right things. Keep notes on this planting so you can repeat or modify the process next crop. Happy Gardening!

    • I can’t tell you how they will have turned out yet, but I planted chickpeas from the bulk section at the grocery store and nearly all of them have sprouted.

  3. You can find chickpeas seeds or Dried chickpeas at Walmart or any grocery store in the bean aisle . I just buy bags of beans there and plant them in my raised garden.That way I don’t have to worry if I cannot find the seed packets anywhere. Works great and I have been doing that for years now . You can grow just about anything like that .

    • Two good places to start are Seeds of Change in Spicer MN, 888-762-7333 and Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company of Mansfield, MO 417-924-8917.

    • All garden seed suppliers sell non gmo. Gmo seeds are Not available to the home gardener. To grow gmo you have to sign contracts for large amounts of seeds commercially and follow a lot of rules. ie- not saving any seeds to replant. So any seed source is good.

  4. My husband has brought home a bucket of freshly harvested chick peas, saying I spend too much money on the canned variety. My question is: What do I do with the freshly harvested chick peas, in order to use them. All I ever use them for is to make houmus.

    • Fresh chickpeas can be simply boiled in salted water until they’re tender, 3 to 5 minutes depending on how many there are and how fresh they are. When the chickpeas are tender, drain them and dunk them in ice cold water or run cold water over them to cool them off quickly. You can serve them with a sprinkle of salt much like edamame or add them to a salad. To make hummus, cook the chickpeas a little longer, until they are nice and soft–then follow your recipe.

    • You can substitute them for just about any protein in an Indian meal (I use the spice packs from http://www.masterindian.com, which are beyond delicious) You can make a “chana’ curry out of any of those kits, and it’s incredible. My wife is vegetarian – the butter “chicken” kit is her favorite preparation of chickpeas

  5. I tried a 6 pack of these from a local organic shop and am trying them in containers (just saw your note not to do this) with a well drained, organic soil. The plants are doing well and have several pods but some were empty (miniscule seed). Any guess why?

    • Poor seed and pod formation can be caused by (1) cool or cloudy weather during the growing season; (2) high heat during pod formation; (3) insufficient soil moisture during pod formation and growth; (4) tarnished plant bugs feeding on plants.

  6. Can you clarify the yield? It says 4 to 8 plants per person, but does that mean enough for a few meals each or a dozen meals or more (and what size meal)? Do you know the yield per plant by weight or volume (such as: a half-cup or a cup per plant as dried chickpeas–or a quarter-pound per plant)?

    I’m thinking of trying kabuli black chickpeas this year. Thank you for your post.

    • The number of plants to plant per person is based on my survey of several university agriculture department estimates and historical USDA home vegetable gardening surveys. These estimates are based on fresh use of each crop by a person over the course of a season, meaning a few meals each week–not every meal. If you are planning to can or freeze a crop you will want to increase the number of plants. The best estimator of yield is your own experience. Keep track of the number of plants you plant, the yield per plant, and your use over one season to get the best estimate for your.

  7. I live in the Arizona Mojave desert and have three 20 foot trees in my yard that are covered in what looks like a chickpea. I love to eat them, and was trying to identify my trees before I try cooking them to eat.

    • To identify your trees take a short branch with leaves to a nearby garden center or nursery or to the cooperative extension where you can get a tree expert to help you out.

    • You should be able to grow garbanzo beans in any growing zone that has 90-110 days of consistently warm weather–temperatures should average in the 70s or 80sF during the days and not dip below 60-65F during the night during those days.

      • Won’t grow in the UK then?!😂😂Was thinking of giving growing them a try Since Covid-19 and panic buying we couldn’t get hold of all legumes and when they came back in the shops they’ve shot up in price and are quite expensive now even dried.

        • If the summer is too cool or too short, try to grow chickpeas in a clear plastic tunnel that stays warm. Start the plants indoors and then transplant them out after the first frost to grow in the warmth of the tunnel–it will be 10 degrees warmer inside. If you still have 8 to 12 weeks of summer, you can plant now.

    • Chickpea is a cool season annual crop that grows best in 70° to 80°F daytime temperatures and 64° to 70°F night temperatures. Chickpeas are frost tolerant so they can be planted in early spring. Planting later will likely result in shorter plants, less yield and late maturity of late formed flowers and pods. Flowering and pod set coincide with the hot and dry weather.

  8. Something related I just learned about online a couple weeks ago: “aquafaba” (= left-over “bean water”). Once you’ve harvested and dried them, after you have cooked dried chickpeas, save the cooking water. It can be used in many recipes (including meringue and mayonnaise) as an egg substitute.

    • Beans and other summer fruiting crops do best in soil that is just moist, just moist in the root zone. The amount of water needed to keep soil just moist depends on soil structure. The optimal growing soil will be rich in organic matter–aged compost–which is both well draining and water retentive. Compost rich soil requires less water than sandy soil or sandy loam. You can meter your water usage to determine how much water your soil needs to stay moist–you can judge that by plant wilting at the end of the day.

  9. Here’s another recipe:
    Soak 8 oz dreid chick peas overnight. Blot dry with towel. Toss with 1 1/2 tspn olive oil & some shakes of : garlic powder, paprika, good coarse salt (like red Hawaiian salt= YUM!) and pepper. Bake on foiled sheet at 425 for 15 minutes, flip, then 15 minutes more. Turn off oven. Leave in there for about 1-2 hours, until crispy. Cool and store in plastic container with layer of foil over it. Good for a couple days out on counter (they never last that long around here, though! 😉

  10. You need to plant way before last frost. As the article says – these are cool season annuals. If you plant that late, it’s too hot. Most of the online info about this is WRONG, because people assume that since these are popular in Sub-Tropical areas they need heat. They grow in these areas in the winter, or at elevation.

  11. Cool tip! Must be full of lecithin, which is an emulsifier. Most manufacturers use soybeans or sunflowers as the source, but chickpeas must have some too. I’m going to try this in my bulletproof coffee to see if it will keep the fat suspended longer. (I eat a lot of chickpeas and drink a lot of coffee, so this could be great!) Wonder if I could make chickpea milk instead of soy milk…

  12. Hello! Thanks for the great info on growing chickpeas. I was wondering- do you think the plant would grow well in my indoor hydroponic garden? Or is it too large/bushy?

    • Chickpea plants can grow to 18-20 inches tall and wide. If you have enough room in your indoor hydroponic garden, you can grow chickpeas.

  13. I’ve been wanting to grow these for a long time now. About the only things i can get growing up here are potatoes and garlic. (which I love). I’m in a zone three. Over the past three years we’ve had freakishly irregular seasons, cutting the real growing season down to about 60-80 days. Has anyone on this thread had any experience starting them inside?

  14. Hi! I love this post. I was recently in Greece and LOVED their chickpea meals. They seem so much bigger over there! Anyways, I bought a bag of dried chickpeas from there and am wondering if that would be suitable to try and grow here? I’m in the toronto area, zone 5b/6a. And would I just drop the dried chickpea into the starting soil if sowing indoors? I saw a video just now where they did soak the chickpeas and then covered it for 3 days before it sprouted. Is there a reason you dont recommend the initial soak?

    • Most beans will benefit from soaking in water overnight or a day and two nights. The soak softens the bean cover and allows for quicker germination. Like other beans, chickpeas prefer a warm growing season. Time your seed starting and transplanting to that the crop is growing in the warmest time of the year in your region. You may also enjoy reading this post “How to Cook and Serve Chickpeas”–Here’s the link:
      https://harvesttotable.com/chickpeas_the_chickpea_can/

    • Harvest chickpeas about 100 days after you plant them. To eat them fresh, harvest the pods small and green You can eat them like snap beans. If you want to dry chickpeas, the leaves wither and turn brown, then pull the whole plant. Lay the whole plant on a flat, warm surface. Let it sit until the pods dry and begin to split. You can then thresh the pods–separating the beans from the dry pods. Store dried chickpeas in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

  15. I have 3 plants I started from dried garbanzos. I have them in a Growing Spaces dome & am concerned about space. Can they be pruned to make a bushier, more compact, better producing plant? Thanks

    • When the plants reach the desired height and spread, you can nip the growing tips which is essentially pruning them to size. The yield may be less than if the plant was not pruned.

  16. Hi – Thanks for this article! Can chickpeas be planted again now (8/5/20) for harvest in the Fall? I’m in zone 8, central Texas. Today the high is 99 and the low is 77. My son is sprouting chick peas indoors for a school experiment and since I love them in hummus and salads it would be great to be able to plant them outdoors.

    Thanks!

    • Check the number of days to maturity for the variety your son is sprouting. If the weather will continue warm for that period of time then you should go ahead and plant. There is still plenty of time for chickpeas and beans in the southern third of the country.

  17. This is my first year planting garbanzo beans. They seem to be growing really well and now have pods, both green and dried. All the dried ones have a small hole in them and no beans. The green ones are still plump with beans growing inside. What would cause this? I’m thinking it could be a caterpillar of some kind but I have looked and no sign of any. Any ideas? Thanks!

    • It is likely an insect made its way into the now empty pods sometime during the season and ate the developing beans. The pest may be gone now, but during the growing period occasionally check the undersides of leaves of insects or insect eggs–you can get rid of the pests before they bore into the pods.

    • Yes, your yield was good. Keep track of each planting and results. Also, keep notes on soil and watering; in a season or two you will be able to know what feeding and watering schedule give the greatest yields going forward.

  18. Well I love chickpeas and purchase by the pounds. Since I’m also new to gardening and would like to grow them. I live in Las Vegas where the temps are extreme triple digits will the peas survive such high temperatures?.

    • Chickpeas will suffer heat stress at temperatures greater than 95F. Time your planting so that plants come to harvest before the sustained summer heat, or use shade cloth to protect plants from mid-day sun if you grow into summer in Las Vegas.

  19. Please can you 100% clarify for me that Ii can buy a bag of chickpeas from the supermarket that’s well within the sell-by date and use these to plant? The sort that is sold dried in small quantities that I normally soak and boil to make hummus I mean. I am fairly certain from the comments here that I can but I would like reassurance, please.

    • It would be best to purchase the seeds at an organic market or a farmers’ market to be certain the seeds have not been treated to retard germination. If the seeds are not treated and are an open-pollinated variety (not hybrid), they will germinate if they are freshly dried.

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