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GROW INSPIRED: AN URBAN GARDEN IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

We are constantly amazed with how innovative and creative our garden partners are. Whether they’re working with 2 acres or 200 square feet, we #GrowInspired with their hard work and kick-ass gardens. So we decided to start featuring some of our favorite gardens and gardeners who inspire us to get out and play in the dirt. 

Luis Tobon, better known as @GreenZebraGardening, has been gardening for just over a decade — his first garden was at an apartment he and his wife lived at in Long Beach, California. Fast forward 10 years to an urban vegetable oasis that has brought him and his family a ton of joy (and food), plus a lot of fans on the internet. His Southern California garden is in zone 10b and just 150 square feet, along with a container garden in his backyard. 

Luis' urban garden consists of about 150 sq. ft. plus containers

A Virtual Garden Tour 

Luis’ main growing area is in his front yard; he has two u-shaped beds in the front yard, along with four rectangular beds in the ground. He says, “We are closing in on the end of the summer so we have the usual suspects [growing].” They are enjoying eggplants, tomatoes, zinnias, peppers and sweet potatoes. “I’ve also started seeding more bush beans as well as carrots, beets, kohlrabi, and kale,” says Luis. These cool-season veggies will grow well throughout the winter in his area. 

Containers in the backyard and a flower/cucamelon bed in the front yard. 

“Eat Your Veggies!” 

Although Luis grows his garden to feed his family, he says it can take a little convincing to get his two sons to all of the vegetables he grows. “My wife and I have two amazing boys that like being outside and getting fresh air but don’t always eat from the garden,” he explains. “Although in the cooler months, it's all about the peas. Once they learn where I planted the peas, they can always be found there eating them. They’ve even learned to just toss the empty pods right back into the beds. In the summer, my youngest loves his cherry tomatoes.” Who can blame them? Peas and tomatoes are our fan favorites fresh from the garden as well. 

Luis uses C-Bites to help support his veggies in beds and containers (Pepper, left, Tomatoes, right)

C-Bites In The Urban Garden

Luis says that c-bites have been particularly helpful in his small urban garden because he’s been able to use them in both his raised beds and containers. “I had been thinking about putting in more permanent structures in the garden for plant support, but I love that I can easily remove the structures I’ve built,” Luis explains. “And when the new season kicks in they can be rearranged to accommodate those plants.”

For Luis, C-Bites one-up traditional plant supports because they are so easily customizable. “Gone are the days of dealing with a large tomato plant while trying to use those round tomato cages that most big box stores carry. Those cages easily fall over with a tomato that is meant to grow so large,” says Luis. “I put in a few bamboo poles or those green stakes and attach them with the cbites. Yes, you can tie them with twine or that horrible tape … but I would much rather snap off the cbites, put them in a box and store them for when I need them again or just build a different support system as the next season.” Luis says this is especially important in Southern California, where they are essentially gardening year-round.

Luis has found a variety of creative ways to use C-Bites in his garden, including irrigation!

Luis says his only limitation with c-bites is his imagination, and we can vouch for this! He is so creative when it comes to his garden. “I’ve gone through the piles, most gardeners have them, of the bamboo and green stakes that live in the corner of the yard and have made some pretty cool structures to hold up all kinds of plants,” he explains. “I’ve also just figured out how to attach drip irrigation drippers to them and hold the dripper in place so that the water gets right to where I need it.” C-Bites for irrigation? We’re all in! 

Green Zebra Gardener’s Namesake: A Tomato 

When asked what his favorite veggie to grow is, Luis responded with the Green Zebra Tomato. “I love eating them with some mozzarella cheese and basil.” He says he’s never been too into flowers but has included him in his urban garden to help attract beneficial bugs and pollinators. His favorite flower for this purpose is using Nasturtium as a trap crop, which helps keep pests away from the more precious vegetable plants. “My second favorite flower would have to be Zinnias. They have brought in so many pollinators and have been super easy to grow as well. My wife loves all the color in the garden as the main garden is in the front yard.” Luis explains.

A mixed flower/veggie bed being supported with a huge C-Bite structure.

Advice From A Seasoned Gardener

When asked to give advice to new gardeners, Luis says to just get in the dirt. “Quit making excuses and just start. It doesn’t have to be a massive garden. It can be some basil on the windowsill. Once you start getting those successes under your belt; you’ll never wanna stop.” 

We couldn’t agree more! If you’re looking to #GrowInspired, we couldn’t recommend Luis’ Instagram and YouTube Channel more. From garden tours to tips on growing in containers, Green Zebra Gardening is where it’s at. 


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