Chickpea Victories

Over the years, I have occasionally tried to plant garbanzo beans (AKA chickpeas), but with extremely limited success. It’s not that they wouldn’t sprout – even planting material purchased from grocery stories grew vigorously, as long as it was given initial cool temperatures and sufficiently high moisture. But rabbits mostly ate the seedlings to the ground, and when the survivors set pods, they ate off the pods too. So I could never harvest enough seeds to recoup my planting requirements, much less have an excess for consumption.

I have, however, made a discovery. The standard type I planted – known in India as Kabuli – is the large, round, white chickpea with white flowers. There’s another, closely related and native to India, known as Desi – which means ‘country’ or ‘local’ in Hindi – that has notably more pigmentation in the flowers and leaves, a bitter seed coat, and a smaller, coarser texture. But the rabbits won’t eat it – not one bite. Not the seedlings, not the mature foliage, and so far not the pods.

They seem so unappealing to rabbits, groundhogs, and other plant predators that I’m giving serious consideration to using them as a repellent border in next year’s garden.

My planting stock came from an Indian grocery store, labeled as ‘kala chana’. They’re the main ingredient in chana dal, only with the seedcoat removed and split (which makes it impossible to plant them).

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