Growing Chickpeas

Latest update 27th August 2017.

  • Chickpeas also-known as garbanzo beans are a legume but not really a pea or a bean.
  • Its the main ingredient in hummus and falafel, and is rich in nutrients including proteins.  They are a tasty addition to vegetable soup.
  • I harvest mine when the pods are dry and store them in sealed preserving jars.  They need to be re-hydrated by soaking in water overnight before cooking them.
  • Binomial name                                         Cicer arietinum
  • Family group:                                           Fabaceae.   
  • Crop rotation group:                                  Legumes.  
  • Garden bed type:                                      Garden Ecobed.  
  • Recommended soil pH:                             6.0 - 7.5.  
  • Minimum sun per day:                              5 hours.   
  • Plant spacings (centres x rows):                80 x 80 mm.
  • Weeks to harvest:                                     9 - 11 weeks.
  • Good companions:                                    Potato. radish. carrot. turnip.  
  • Climate:                                                   Warm temperate. 
  • Geography:                                              Southern hemisphere.
  • This food is low in saturated fat, and very low in cholesterol and sodium.
  • It is also a good source of dietary fibre, protein and copper, and a very good source of folate and manganese.
  • More from nutrition
Growing Conditions: 
  • They are a summer crop and grow best in warm sunny conditions.
  • They are frost tender. 
  • They need well structured rich organic soil, which should be kept moist but not wet at all times.
Soil Preparation.
  • Clear a space for the chickpeas in October and add a 60mm layer of home made compost.  Cover with 50mm of fresh straw mulch.
  • Leave the bed for 4 weeks to build up worm and microbial activity.  Remove the mulch before planting the first crop.  
Growing Instructions. 
  • Sow the chickpeas in November in rows 80mm apart.  
  • Using a dibber (or your finger), make 10mm deep holes 80mm apart along each row and sow the seeds in them. 
  • Backfil the holes with soil and water in well with diluted seaweed extract.
  • Cover the soil with fresh mulch as soon as the chickpeas are established. 
  • Apply a foliar spray of aerated compost tea every 4 weeks with all the other edible plants.
Harvesting and storage
  • Harvest the chickpeas from March.
  • Pick them as soon as their pods dry out and extract the seeds. 
  • Use a pair of scissors to snip the pods off the bush to avoid damaging it. 
  • Store the dry seeds in bottles until required.
Organic Pest Control.
  • Slugs and snails.
    • Chickpeas should be protected against slugs and snails using self adhesive copper tape bonded around the base of your Ecobed.
    • If these molluscs get into your Ecobed as eggs laid in your compost, kill them with organically acceptable iron based snail pellets as soon as you discover them.  You should only need to use a small number of pellets.
  • Greenhouse whitefly.
    • Aerated compost tea strengthens the plants foliage against whitefly damage.  
    • Exclusion netting is effective against whitefly but they are very small and will occasionally breach your defences, so you will need to check your crop regularly. 
    • Control any infestations by spraying your crop thoroughly with organic horticultural oil (Eco-oil in Australia).
    • Spray again in a few days to ensure second generation whitefly do not survive.
  • Powdery mildew.  
    • Spray the chickpea's foliage with aerated compost tea every month to keep powdery mildew at bay.
    • A solution of 1 part cows milk to 9 parts water also makes a reasonably effective organic deterrent against powdery mildew.  However, it needs to be applied early before the fungi gets well established, and frequently to keep the mildew in check.
    • As a last resort spray the plants foliage with organic Eco-fungicide.
  • General:
    • Regular applications of aerated compost tea boost the natural defences of plants by colonising the leaf surfaces with beneficial microbes.  They defend the plant against airborne pests and diseases.
    • Similarly, proper soil preparation including regular applications of home made compost boosts the community of beneficial microbes defending the plants roots against pathogens.
    • Exclusion netting can be used to stop birds digging up worms in your Ecobed while the plants are young, and takes the edge off hot sunshine with a 20% shade factor.  Remove the netting as soon as the chickpeas begin to flower so pollinators can get good access to them.