Chick-peas, or garbanzos, have been grown in Mediterranean countries since as early as 8000 B.C. Cicer arietinum was a staple of their diet and still plays an important part in the regional cooking of southern Europe. Chick-peas, widely grown in India and Burma, are India's most important legume.
The chick-pea is a delicate, graceful plant which branches near the ground and is usually about two feet high. One or two seeds are borne in numerous round swollen pods about four months from the time of sowing.
Garbanzos are a cooler-weather crop and can be sown like peas early in spring. The plants are best thinned to about a foot apart because of their spreading habit. They don't need staking. They require little attention beyond the occasional weeding or hoeing and are quite drought-tolerant. The dry pods are more difficult to process than those of other beans: the shells have a lanolin-like stickiness and cave in rather than split apart when hand-threshed. I recommend you place them on a tarp on the ground or in a large container such as a box or an ice chest and "do the shuffle" over them.
If you've already prepared such specialty dishes as tabouli and humous, you're in for a special treat when you prepare them with homegrown garbanzos. As with other fresh-grown beans, their taste is mild and sweet and cooking times are considerably less than what is usually recommended. In this case, 90 minutes is sufficient after an overnight soaking (rather than two and a half hours).
The chick-pea is one of the more nutritious members of the bean family - rich in protein, calcium, iron and B vitamins.