How to Grow Chickpeas (for Aquafaba!)

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, may look a bit quirky, but these protein powerhouses have a wonderfully nutty taste and are nutritious to boot.

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, may look a bit quirky, but these protein powerhouses have a wonderfully nutty taste and are nutritious to boot. For the best flavor, skip the canned kind and grow your own at home. (Once you do, you'll be able to make your own aquafaba, or chickpea water, to use as an egg substitute in your favorite recipes. See more on that below.)

Chickpea plants are bushy and top out at about 18 inches, making them ideal for containers. The "peas" themselves are actually seeds encased in small pods that grow on the plant. A cool-season crop, chickpeas grow best when temperatures hover between 70 and 80 degrees during the day, and stay above 65 degrees at night.

Here's how to grow chickpeas in your home garden.


Choose a space that gets at least 6 to 8 hours of sun in cooler climates, but a bit of afternoon shade in warmer areas of the country. Pick a nutrient-rich soil that drains well. For best results, use Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics® All Purpose Container Mix in containers, or 100 percent organic Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics® Raised Bed Mix in raised beds. If you have an in-ground garden, mix 3 inches of Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics® All Purpose In-Ground Soil into the top 6 inches of soil covering the planting area.


Most gardening centers and home improvement stores don't carry chickpea seeds, so you will probably need to order them. (For best results when searching online, use the term "garbanzo bean seeds".) Once they arrive, plant seeds 1 to 2 weeks before your last frost date. Make 1.5- to 2-inch deep holes 3 to 4 inches apart, drop a seed in each one, and cover them with soil. Water thoroughly.


The seeds should sprout within 10 to 14 days. Water regularly and evenly throughout the growing season to keep the soil moist. In cooler areas, chickpea plants will need about an inch of water per week; in warmer climates, they may need double that amount. When plants are 2 to 3 inches tall, thin them out so you're left with one plant every 6 inches; this spacing will allow the plants to support one another so they don't need staking. To thin them, simply use scissors to trim the extras off at the soil surface, so you dont disturb the roots of neighboring plants.


While planting in nutrient-rich soil will give your chickpea plants a great start, for best results, you'll want to make sure they continue receiving nutrition throughout the growing season. About a month after planting, start a regular feeding program using Miracle-Gro® Performance Organic® Edibles Plant Nutrition Granules. Be sure to follow label directions.


Chickpeas will be ready for picking about 100 days after you plant them. If you plan to eat them fresh, harvest them while the pods are still small and green, then eat them like snap beans. If you prefer to dry them, wait for the leaves to wither and turn brown, then pull the whole plant. Lay it on a flat, warm surface and leave it until the pods dry and begin to split, allowing you to harvest the seeds inside. To store dried chickpeas, place them in an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place.


Before cooking dried chickpeas, rinse them, then soak them overnight and drain. Use them to make hummus, or add them to soups, stews, or salads. Here's another great option: make chickpea water, also known as aquafaba. The liquid left over from cooking these tasty legumes can actually be used as an egg substitute, opening up a whole new culinary world for vegans.

Here's how to make aquafaba: After rinsing, soaking, and draining chickpeas, put them in a pot and add enough water to cover them. Cook until chickpeas are soft, then drain and save the liquid. (Use a sieve to get any floating pieces out, if necessary.) If the liquid is too watery - you want it to be the consistency of an egg white - boil it until it thickens a bit. Store aquafaba in the fridge and use it in recipes that call for eggs, such as meringues, mousses, cookies, and mayonnaise. Three tablespoons of aquafaba equals one egg.

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