Find out how to develop chickpeas for home made hummus

There's one thing that's fundamentally right about making hummus. You must know how to grow chickpeas. There's nothing quite like fresh chickpeas to liven up your kitchen and add nitrogen to your garden soil. And growing chickpeas is worth it because it's so rewarding.

When planting chickpeas, you also have many varieties to choose from. Sow seeds, add some aged compost and there you go! This legume has been around for a long time, and there's a reason for that. Today it is a staple food around the world.

Chickpeas originally came from the Middle East and made their way to Europe and India via trade routes and military movements. It's no surprise that they are spreading since chickpeas are highly nutritious and almost medicinal in their properties. So, before you choose chickpea seeds, let's discuss ways to care for chickpea plants.

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Quick care instructions

Chickpea plants have distinctive leaves and tiny white to pinkish-purple flowers. Source: Starr

Common name(s) Chickpeas, chickpeas, chana
Scientific name Cicer arietinum
days until harvest 100 days after transplantation
Bright full sun
water 1 inch per week
floor Rich, well draining
fertilizer Powder high in phosphorus and potassium when planting
pests Beet armyworm, chickpea leaf miner, bean weevil, earthworm, pod borer
Diseases Rot, Fusarium wilt, bean mosaic virus

All about chickpeas

chickpea podsChickpea or garbanzo pods each contain a single chickpea inside. Source: Washington State Department of Agriculture

Chickpeas (Cicer arietinum) are commonly known as chickpeas or chana. The first record of domesticated chickpea plants dates back to Neolithic times, before pottery in Turkey. These chickpea seeds arrived around 6000 BC. to the Mediterranean Sea. Subsequently, they were first discovered in 3000 BC. Used in India.

The chickpea plant is a herbaceous annual legume that grows to maturity in about 100 days after transplanting chickpea seedlings. It reaches a height of 8 to 20 inches on a shallow root. It is a bushy plant with spreading branches covered in soft glandular hairs. Each branch bears 3 to 8 pairs of hairy leaflets arranged alternately. As the plant matures, white flowers with blue, purple, or pink veins bloom either singly or in pairs at the tip of each branch. Flowers of a chickpea plant are self-pollinating and may volunteer if the seed is not collected and harvested. The flowers die off and flat green pods form. Each pod contains 1 to 2 seeds. Before harvest, the plant can dry to the point where 90% of the pods turn brown. Or raw chickpeas can be extracted a few weeks before drying.

The pea-like seeds are the main reason for growing chickpeas. They are used raw, dried, ground or popped. Many people enjoy chickpeas in hummus, where they're combined with tahini, olive oil, fresh herbs, and garlic for a delicious chickpea paste that's used as a dip, spread, or side dish. The leaves of the plant are also a popular side dish in Indian dishes.

Chickpeas are packed with nutrients, and not just for humans. People plant chickpeas en masse to break disease cycles caused by wheat or barley crops. They are considered one of the many green manures that farmers plant before other crops to enrich the soil. They were used as a coffee substitute in the 18th century and were cultivated again for this purpose in Germany during the First World War. Almost every culture in the world has a use for chickpeas.

Plant chickpeas

Plant chickpea seeds early, at least two to three weeks before the last spring frost. Avoid planting chickpeas in starter pots as they are very susceptible to transplant shock. Instead, sow chickpeas directly in the plant bed. If you must start them indoors, use biodegradable pots that will allow you to later plant the entire seedling pot in the garden.

Give them a well-draining area rich in organic matter. Full sun is a must. If the soil or climate isn't right for growing chickpeas, try plastic or ceramic containers that drain well and are at least 8 inches deep. Multiple containers give a good yield, while one isn't enough. When sowing chickpeas, plant them 1.5 to 2 inches deep and space them 3 to 6 inches apart in rows 18 to 24 inches apart. Thin out the strongest plants within the rows to 6 inches. Once established, provide a thin layer of mulch to retain moisture.


Foliage and flowers of chickpeasChickpeas are easily identified in the garden by their leaf structure. Source: Dinesh Valke

Once your chickpea seedlings sprout, you are well on your way to chickpea harvesting. Let's talk about the chickpea care essentials.

sun and temperature

Chickpeas need full sun with at least 6 to 8 hours of direct light per day. USDA zones 2 through 10b are great for spring growing chickpeas. Fall planting is possible in zones 10b through 11, although pests are more of a problem at this time. In the chickpea plant's natural habitat, daytime temperatures range between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Nighttime temperatures can drop to 140°F (64°C) with no detriment to the plant.

Chickpeas need at least 90 days of cool weather to produce. They are also somewhat frost tolerant. Too much cold during the flowering phase of chickpea growth can cause bud drop. During the vegetative phase, cold reduces chickpeas' ability to absorb water and nutrients, and growth can be stunted. Excessive heat above 85 degrees does the same. Water more during hot seasons and use a shade cloth to shade your plant during a heat wave. In the event of a sudden frost, a frost cloth can help. Bring your plant indoors if it already lives in a container.

water and moisture

Water regularly in the morning to keep the soil evenly moist. Chickpea plants enjoy at least an inch of water per week. Use drip irrigation or drip hoses to water the plants at the base to provide water directly to the plant's root system. Avoid overhead watering. When the plant is in the seed production phase, give it a little more water than usual. This ensures a good yield. If it rains a lot during cool seasons while you're growing chickpeas, avoid overwatering. Instead, let the soil dry out a bit before the next watering period. Chickpea plants are not drought tolerant and will have lower yields if soil moisture is insufficient.


The planting bed or container should be filled with nutrient-rich soil. Therefore, make sure that it is also well-drained soil. Soil structure can meet drainage needs if you don't have agricultural sand or other supplement to support. Tilt your garden area to encourage proper uptake of nutrients in the shallow root systems of your chickpea plants. It's possible to produce chickpeas on poor soil, but a thin layer of aged compost helps a lot. The ideal pH range for growing chickpeas is between 4 and 6.


Avoid planting chickpeas with fertilizers high in nitrogen. These plants already distribute nitrogen into the soil, and adding too much nitrogen will focus the plant's attention on foliar production rather than healthy, green chickpeas. For this reason, you should not grow this plant with other legumes either. When planting, give a powder fertilizer of 5-10-10 NPK. 1 cup per 50 ft row gives an excellent yield.


As with snap beans, your plant could enjoy a little exercise on a trellis to support the dried beans hanging from the plant in the reproductive stage. As the plant grows, stake, trellis, or comb it while gently moving the plant to your preferred support. If you wish, when mature (before flowering) prune the tops of the plant to produce more dry chickpeas.


Chickpeas are best propagated by seed. Use the planting section above to guide you. Remember that you will need biodegradable seedling pots if you are growing your plants indoors as these plants have a very delicate and shallow taproot that does not like to be disturbed.

Harvesting and Storage

How to grow chickpeasChickpeas at harvest time, dried and ready. Source: ICARDA

So now you've taken care of your chickpeas and helped them thrive. Let's discuss the steps for a successful chickpea harvest.


If you want to enjoy your chickpeas fresh, harvest them about 100 days after planting. Break off the pods and eat them like sugar snap peas. If you want to harvest dried chickpeas, allow the entire plant to wilt and turn brown, then pull it up by the roots. Place each plant on a flat, warm surface and wait for the pods to burst open to reveal the dried chickpeas inside. Carefully bite into one of the chickpeas. If there are hardly any dents, it's done. After the drying process, harvest the chickpeas and separate the shelled chickpeas and the remains of the harvested plant.


Fresh, unpeeled chickpeas can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Fresh peas don't freeze well. Dried seeds will keep for 2 to 3 years in an airtight container. If you want to try cooking chickpeas for storage, know that they will keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. To freeze cooked chickpeas, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze for at least an hour. Place them in a freezer bag and store them for up to 3 months. You can also roast or dehydrate cooked chickpeas to make a crunchy snack that can be kept for a few weeks.


Pod borer on chickpeaPodworms are caterpillars that feed on the pod and the legumes it contains. Source: ICARDA

There are things to watch out for when growing these beautiful plants. Here is a quick overview.

growing problems

If you are growing chickpeas in partial shade, expect a lower yield than you would get from a plant in full sun.

overhead watering weakens the plant and creates conditions where diseased plants are more likely. Water only at the roots if possible, but if not, water very early in the day to allow the sun to dry the plants. If you've watered overhead and are experiencing fungal diseases, remove damaged parts of the plant as needed, then water at the base.

When the ground temperature gets too hot or too cold, Chickpea plant flowers and seed pods may fall off and reduce your yield. Mulch regulates soil temperature during sudden frosts and heat waves. Used in conjunction with Frost Cloth and Shadow Cloth (where applicable) you can keep your plant alive.

Planting chickpeas alongside other legumes will result in a inundation of nitrogen to everyone involved.


beet armyworms are dark green caterpillars with banding and are the larvae of the willow moth. These feed on the leaves of chickpea plants and can skeletonize a plant in severe infestations. Control them with spray applications of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Leave at least 7 to 10 days between your treatments. Introducing parasitic wasps also works to combat armyworms.

Chickpea leaf miner, scientifically known as Liriomyza cicerina, consumes the pulp between the cell walls and the surface of the leaves. When they eat, they leave a small discolored mark on the leaves. Try to sow your crops early to prevent infection. This way it is too cold for leaf miners and they cannot get to your plants. If this doesn't work for your situation, diluted neem oil, sprayed according to the manufacturer's recommendations, can slowly penetrate the leaves and reduce leaf miner activity. Remove and destroy all leaves with mine marks, as this way you can sometimes catch an active miner moth.

bean beetle (Epilachna varivestis) are super cute yellow or red beetles with black spots. But they do a lot of damage quickly and consume leaf material until there's nothing left. Early sowing will help prevent them from getting a chance at your crop. Hand pick some from your plants as needed and toss in soapy water. Lacewings feed on them, and applying diluted neem or insecticidal soap sprays can help. For severe outbreaks, pyrethrin is effective.

cutworms Cut the stalk of your chickpeas at the soil line so that no yield can develop at all. One way to prevent them is to not plant chickpeas after another legume. A foil or plastic collar, or even an old cardboard toilet paper tube placed so that it covers the bottom three inches of the stem will also keep them away. Hand pick and drown any larvae you see, although these are mostly hidden in the ground. Bacillus thuringiensis can also be effective against the larvae, but preventive measures are generally more effective.

pod borer are the common name for two caterpillars of the genus Helicoverpa. They first feed on the leaves and make their way to the seed pods of your chickpea plant. You will see their droppings on plants they have been feeding on. Hand pick them when you find them and apply Bt to the affected plants.

Note that all liquid forms of pesticides can potentially harm beneficial insects while still wet. It's best to apply these sprays late in the day, after most bees or other beneficial insects have retired to their homes for the evening. The sprays then dry overnight, making them less likely to harm your good bugs.


Ascochyta rot, caused by Ascochyta rabeii, presents as circular, light brown lesions on plants. Over time, the lesions develop black raised spots called pycnydia, which can spread the fungal spores. If left unchecked, this can cause stem lesions resulting in broken stems and can reduce yields as fungal spores multiply. One of the best ways to combat rot is to grow disease-resistant varieties of chickpeas. You can also apply a preventative copper fungicide spray 4 to 6 weeks after transplanting and another once your bean pods form.

Fusarium wilt, caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum, causes wilting in all parts of the plant as the leaves turn pale yellow and the stem splits open. Reduce incidences of this disease by plowing under crop residues, planting resistant varieties, and rotating crops every three years. It is not recommended to try fungicides with Fusarium wilt as these can build resistance over time. Some mycorrhizal additives show that they reduce the occurrence of Fusarium spread.

bean mosaic virus appears as irregular yellowing on the leaves of legumes. Foliage puckers when leaves curl or curl, and plants suffer stunted growth or even die. Sowing disease-free and disease-resistant seed is crucial here, as is reducing pests that could be carriers of the disease. There is no treatment for bean mosaic virus. Affected plants should be removed and disposed of in the trash, not in your compost bin.

frequently asked Questions

Canned ChickpeasChickpeas can be grown in containers, raised beds, or directly in the ground. Source: elstro_88

Q: Are chickpeas easy to grow?

A: As long as you give them what they need and stay ahead of diseases and pests, they are easy to grow.

Q: Can you grow chickpeas from dried chickpeas?

A: Yes! This is actually where the chickpea plant comes from. See the Planting section to learn how to sow chickpea seeds.

Q: Where do chickpeas grow best?

A: They love full sun and rich, well-drained soil. This can be in the ground, a raised bed, or a container or planter.

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