pile of chickpeas to grow

How to Grow Chickpeas: The Complete Guide

Have you ever eaten chickpeas? They are commonly used for hummus due to their thick, pea texture that is great as a side condiment. Chickpeas prefer to be grown in moderately warm climates. However, if you want to know how to grow chickpeas in the UK, this should not present too much of a concern, and there are ways that you can grow chickpeas without having to worry about warm, summer climates. In this article, you will find everything that you need to know about how to grow chickpeas in the UK, and thus allow you to grow and make your own hummus, too.

We will explore the following:

What you will need

Item Description
Growing containerYou can grow chickpeas in the ground, in a raised bed or suitable container.
Chickpea seedsChoose the right chickpea seeds from an appropriate nursery or garden centre.
SoilChickpeas need good, well-drained soil with a neutral to slight alkaline pH scale.
FertilizerFertilize chickpeas once a month and check that the formula has a 10:10: ratio.
Watering canAn appropriate device for quickly and effectively watering chickpeas in the right spots.

When to plant chickpeas

When choosing how to grow chickpeas, they should be placed and grown in a suitable location. Chickpeas need full sun and good, well-drained soil in order to grow, and the best places that you can grow them are in locations with warm temperatures and low humidity. When prepping the soil, check that it has a neutral to acute measurement of alkaline, and have the temperature to at least 10°C.

As the UK is traditionally a cold country, it is best to get a head start for growing your chickpeas before summer ends. Check when the last frost date was, and begin growing them indoors 2-4 weeks before the end of the frost date[i]. Using paper pots are handy when learning how to grow chickpeas, since they can then be easily transplanted in the ground without having to worry about disturbing the roots.

knowing how to grow chickpeas alongside other fruits and veg, pile of chickpeas inside tub

Companion Plants

Knowing how to grow chickpeas can vary depending on who they are planted with. Planting your chickpea crops alongside other companion plants will further assist their growth, and will work well together when added into recipes. Do not plant them alongside garlic. Chickpea companion plants include:

  • Potatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Corn
  • Strawberries
  • Celery
  • Summer savoury
  • Tomatoes

Planting and caring for chickpeas.

When ensuring yourself how to grow chickpeas, you should check that their growing environment meets the following criteria:

  • Lighting: Placing your chickpeas in a desired spot of sunlight for 6-8 hours daily will provide them with the right amount of warmth needed to help them grow. If growing them in a southern climate, the afternoon shade will work better.
  • Soil: Give your chickpeas well-drained soil with a neutral to slightly alkaline soil that has a temperature of at least 10°C.
  • Watering: Water your chickpeas once a week, depending on how warm and dry the weather is. Do not overwater since this will rot the root and turn the soil soggy. Monitor the watering during the flowering and pod formation process, since this is when water will be integral towards further growth.
  • Temperature and humidity: Whilst chickpeas are not a warm-weather-needy crop, they will thrive better when grown in adequate daytime temperatures of 21 – 26°C. Nighttime temperatures should also be 18-21°C. Moderate humidity is not too much of a problem for chickpea plants, but cooler temperatures can cause problems since an early frost will affect their maturity rate.
  • Fertilizing/feeding: When fertilizing or feeding your chickpea crops, use moderate feeders that have the right amount of nutrients to help with the chickpea growth. Balanced fertilizers should have a 10:10:10 ratio, so use this before planting and after the flowering process.
  • Pollinating: Chickpeas are self-pollinating, and therefore do not need insects for pollination.

Varieties of chickpeas

Kabuli and Desi are the most common varieties of chickpeas that are available for purchase in the UK. Kabuli is recognized for producing small to large-sized seeds for chickpeas and will have taller plants. The chickpeas that Kabuli produces will have a white to cream-coloured texture for its seedcoat.

On the other hand Desi chickpeas, are a lot smaller and will have a tanned brown seedcoat. The biggest difference for telling these chickpea varieties apart is their flowering and bloom period. Kabuli chickpeas produce white flowers, whilst Desi’s are purple and will mature two weeks before Kabuli chickpeas do.

Harvesting chickpeas

Your chickpeas will be ready to harvest when the pods have turned to a consistent yellow colour and will have started to dry out. Ensure that you allow the pods to dry out completely on the plant before you begin harvesting them. The seeds also need to be fully mature when harvesting them.

After they have dried out, remove the pods from the plant and thresh them, which will help to separate the seeds from the pods. It should take up to 100 days for your chickpeas to mature before you can harvest them, so long as they have been grown in the right conditions.

Pruning (thinning out) chickpeas

Like most crops, chickpeas can be pruned and propagated. However, this process can be different from other crops. For instance, chickpeas do not need pruning, but instead, need to be thinned out. This requires measuring the seedlings to a length of 3 inches, and then cutting them at the surface so that 6 inches of space is left between each crop. Handle pulling the seedlings out differently from if you would weeds, as the roots can easily get damaged, and you want to keep them in good condition.

Propagating chickpeas

Chickpeas have a long growing season that can last a whole year, so there is little to no point in propagating it to produce new crops within the same season. You should try setting aside a set of chickpeas to use as seeds the following year instead.

Fancy learning how to grow the mystical sansevieria cylindrica?

how to grow chickpeas in the UK for food

Problem-solving

Since learning how to grow chickpeas can take a long time, be sure to watch out for the following problems should they arise, and how to counteract them.

Pests and diseases:

Whilst chickpeas are usually resistant to pests and diseases, they are still susceptible to aphids, whiteflies, and fungal diseases including powdery mildew. Simply use organic products such as insecticidal soap or neem oil which will help to control these pests. Remove affected plants or leaves which will help contain and prevent the spread of disease.

Overwintering

Because chickpeas grow annually, overwintering will not pose much of a threat, since the crops will die after the harvest. You do not have to worry about overwintering when learning how to grow chickpeas.

Storing chickpeas:

You can store your dried chickpeas in a cool and dry environment, preferably in an airtight container. Chickpeas can be stored away for as long as a whole year and will be just as delicious when they are eventually added to your recipes, from hummus to stews and salads.

Grow your own chickpeas

By following these steps towards how to grow chickpeas, you can successfully grow them in your garden. By adding them to your own recipes, when your guests come to visit for lunch and try them, they will be invested by the unique flavorings and textures that make growing homemade chickpeas different from shop-bought ones. Enjoy a lengthy harvest and indulge in the many nutrients and health benefits that chickpeas can bring to your diet.

FAQs

Can chickpeas be grown indoors?

Chickpeas need full sun and an optimal amount of light conditions, and are not really suitable to be grown indoors, as this can cause the crops to go leggy.

Are chickpeas and garbanzo beans the same?

Chickpeas and garbanzo are widely considered to be the same plant. Did you know that garbanzo in Spanish (garau antzu) means dried seeds?

Can chickpeas be bought as seeds?

When buying shop-bought chickpeas, try to see what type of chickpea that you are growing. Most shop-bought chickpea packets will not always state how long it will take the seeds to mature or what specific requirements are needed for them to grow.

Sources


[i] PlantMaps. (n.d.). Interactive United Kingdom Last Frost Date Map. [Accessed 17/03/23] Retrieved from: https://www.plantmaps.com/interactive-united-kingdom-last-frost-date-map.php

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