As growers of mainly deciduous fruit, we find subtropical and tropical fruit trees very exotic.

Mango, papaya, custard apples, mmm

Down south where we live, fruit like apples, pears and peaches are our staples. They grow easily in our climate.

We occasionally get access to subtropical fruits in our local organic shop, and when we do they’re a fabulous treat. However, many subtropical fruits are either rare or completely unavailable in our part of the world.

Choosing the right fruit to grow at your place depends a lot on your climate, as we discuss here. But we’ve always resisted the idea that your climate zone should limit what you grow.

So it was a great pleasure to be able to visit Daley’s plant nursery recently.

Daleys subtropical nursery

Daleys specialise in subtropical fruits and we’ve been following for them ages. We’re often on their website, drooling over all the delicious things we WISH we could grow.

Carambola (starfruit), Mexican Cream guava, lychees…

Carambola starfruit at Daleys nursery
Carambola starfruit at Daleys nursery

There is a huge variety of subtropicals available. Some of them we’d never even heard of before we visited Daleys.

Peanut butter fruit, amla, phalsa, bayberry, Brazilian cherry…

The lovely sweet red Brazilian Cherry
The lovely sweet red Brazilian Cherry

So it was very special when we got talking to the Daley family (dad Greg and son Paul) and were offered a tour of the beautiful gardens that make up the nursery business. The nursery is run by Greg, his two brothers, and his nephew Correy.

It was so fantastic to walk around with the experts, see the trees and be able to ask lots of questions.

Though he’s not currently involved in the business Paul grew up there and the place feels very much like home to him, which was obvious as he demonstrated his knowledge of the trees, the fruit, and the environment during our walk.

But the best bit was that we got to taste some of the fruits that were in season.

Jambolan plum, coconut, miracle fruit…

A small red miracle fruit that makes sour fruit taste sweet
A tiny but amazing red miracle fruit that makes sour fruit taste sweet

Tamarillo, Acerola cherry, jackfruit, coffee…

Where can you grow subtropical fruits?

Some of those names are probably familiar to you, and you may already grow them. If you live in the subtropics (like many of our Grow Great Fruit members) you may even be more interested in how to grow the deciduous fruits we think are ordinary.

Even in our harsh Victorian climate we can grow quite a lot of fruit trees that are often included in the subtropical category.

Avocados, macadamias, loquat, mulberry, tamarillos, pecans, passionfruit, figs, persimmon, and finger limes all grow relatively easily if you can protect them from frost.

Paul Daley splitting open a ripe jackfruit for us to eat
Paul Daley splitting open a ripe jackfruit for us to eat

But our very arid environment in central Victoria is both too hot and too cold for many subtropicals. We wouldn’t have a hope of growing them.

Or … would we?

Our trip has certainly got us thinking about how far we might be able to push the micro-climate envelope on our farm.

We’d love to have a go at creating the right environment to grow some of these amazing fruits. We’re also hopeful that Paul and/or Greg will be presenting a subtropical fruit Masterclass for our Grow Great Fruit members in the near future (stay tuned in the newsletter or check the website for details).

So we’re currently dreaming of learning lots more about subtropical fruit, and plotting out how to build a rather large greenhouse…