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Artichoke Picking / Packing

Cynara Scolymus, also popularly known as Globe Artichoke, Crown Artichoke, French Artichoke or as simple as Artichoke, is a variety of flowering plant in the family of Asteraceae that has a very sharp prickle leaves. These somewhat exotic vegetable is said to possibly originated in North Africa then was traded trough Mediterranean Sea, Greece and Rome. Record showed that these thistle species were being cultivated in Naples during the 9th century, Holand and France during the early 15th century. It was only in the 1940s when Italian immigrants arrived that the Globe Artichoke was much grown in Australia.

There are numerous varieties of Globe Artichokes that are being cultivated such Emerald, Romanesco, Green Globe, Grand Beurre, Purple Globe and Purple de Jesi; however, only two are being widely harvested in Australia – the green globe and the purple globe. Globe artichokes, which are considered to be an ancient crop, are best planted from April to July. Artichokes are easy to grow though they prefer to be grown in cold, mild winters and moist summers. These types of vegetables need a rich, deep and well-drained soil that has a temperature between 15°C and 18°C. It is also worth noting that since Globe Artichokes can grow at a height of 1.3m up to 1.5m, they have to be grown and planted at least 160 – 200 cm apart.

Globe Artichokes can be planted via root cutting or seeds; however, most farms in Australia prefers planting them through root cutting or suckers as planting them via seeds may take longer in producing buds, which is usually longer than a year or two. In growing artichokes, you must protect it from pests such aphids, weather snails and slugs lingering around its flowers, from the direct heat of the sun, frost protection is also a must in regions with sever winters and ensure that it is well-watered (especially during dry periods) until they are fully established.

Cynara Scolymus are best harvested during the Spring season in Australia, although, some are doing their harvest from mid winter to summer depending on the area it was grown. You can tell if the vegetable is ready for harvest when it’s already large and swollen. Depending on its variety, you can also harvest the globe artichoke when its already purple or bronze while tightly closed and when the scales are still soft and green.

Just like fruit picking jobs, backpackers can also earn in picking Artichokes while they are travelling in Australia. Farms normally pay by the hour or by piece basis. Make sure to communicate well with the farm supervisor about the pay rate and choose what’s best fit for you, between an hour pay or per piece pay basis. If you wish to do an artichoke picking job, you must ensure that you are physically fit as this job is mostly done in long hours under the sun. You must always bring your protective gear such hat, long sleeved clothes, sunglasses and water for hydration.