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Sunday, 11 March 2012

How to grow chickpeas

Chickpeas require about 100 days to reach harvest. You can sow chickpeas outside from mid-March or to get them off to a flying start sow your chickpeas indoors in peat or paper pots in late February. Transplant them outside, after hardening off, when the plants are about 10cm tall. If planting indoors, it's best to use peat or paper pots as chickpeas cannot cope with being transplanted. Just plant out the chickpeas in their peat or paper pots and the pots will rot away in the soil..

Chickpeas are a bushy plant which can grow to about 45cm tall and produce pods about 3cm long - each of which will contain one or two large chickpeas. Chickpeas prefer full sun and a loose but well-drained soil which is rich in previously included organic matter. Each chickpea plant will yields an average of 14-19 pods per plant.

If you are sowing your chickpeas direct, sow two chickpeas about 2.5cm deep and about 5cm apart but do not pre-soak as this promotes splitting. Sow in rows 60cm apart. Germination will take about 6-8 days. Keep the bed moist until the chickpeas emerge. Thin successful plants to 15cm apart. Cut away thinned plants at soil level with scissors, so as not to disturb the remaining chickpeas root structure.

Water regularly but especially during flowering and pod formation but always water at soil level, as spraying can cause flowers and pods to fall off.

Chickpeas can be attacked by aphids. Keep an eye out for pests and if needed spray with homemade organic solution. http://cyprusgardener.blogspot.com/2011/06/organic-pest-and-disease-control.html

Chickpeas will be ready for harvesting about 100 days after planting. You can enjoy chickpeas when the pods are still green. Or alternatively, allow chickpeas to dry before harvesting the entire plant. Harvest when the leaves have withered and turned brown by putting the whole plant on a flat, warm and sunny surface and leave until the pods are fully dry. Collect the seed as the pods split at which stage they should be thoroughly dry and can be stored for up to a year.

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