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Thumb nail outline of how to treat my garden during Shemitah

Thumb nail outline of how to treat my garden during Shemitah

How to take care of my garden during Shemitah? A short and practical article

Rabbi Moshe Bloom

Private individuals may not sow plants or turn over the soil to air it out.

It is permitted to irrigate to keep plants alive. 
It is sufficient to fertilize home gardens with appropriate fertilizer before shemitah to provide the garden with all of its nourishment needs. no fertilizing during shemitah.

Weeds - Weeds that considerably undermine the garden's appearance or genuinely compete with the plants in the garden; or if one is concerned that weeds will provide cover for various pests, the order of preference is as follows:

a.  Spray with various growth-preventative chemicals.
b. Cover the area in a black sheet (that blocks light).
c. Spray existing weeds (available as mentioned above).
d. Mow down weeds above soil (with a lawnmower or scythe mower, etc.).

Weeds should not be uprooted.

Pruning meant only to preserve the existing shape of the tree or bush is permitted, providing that the plant is mature and the pruning does n initiate new growth. For this reason, it is permissible to prune a full-living fence or gate. However, it is forbidden to prune a young living fence, since pruning initiates the growth of new branches that fill in the gaps.
It is permissible to prune in the following cases: protruding branches next to (or above) sidewalks that bother pedestrians or growing near electrical wires, and such; for all the above are permissible providing that it is apparent that the purpose is not to facilitate the tree's growth. 

Mowing the lawn:
Full lawns without bald spots can be mowed as usual. One should not be late in mowing, otherwise, this causes lawn yellowing ("sunburn"), which initiates new growth.
It is forbidden to mow young grass, as this causes it to spread.

It is forbidden to perform actions that are meant to sprout new fruit on the tree (such as irrigation and fertilization during blooming). However, after the fruit begins to develop, it is permissible to perform such actions to preserve the existing fruit. These actions include: spraying against pests that harm fruit, spraying to prevent fruit from falling, clipping thorns that harm fruit, tying and training branches, and bending branches prior to harvest to make fruit harvest easier.

It is permissible to perform landscaping work for the purpose of construction but not for the purpose of planting and sowing plants and trees.

Growing in the house

The laws of shemitah do not apply to growing crops indoors, when the growing platform is detached from the ground:

The structure should be permanent and not mobile.

Planters should be placed on a platform detached from the ground. When growing plants indoors, if on the first floor or higher, there is no need for an additional surface to detach plants from the ground. If on the ground floor, use another material under the pot: strong polyethylene plastic sheets; coated, waterproof Palrig sheets; and galvanized metal panels, etc.

The volume of each planter may not exceed 70 L. The size of the perforation in the planter should not exceed 1 cm 2; all perforations in the planter together should not exceed 2 cm2.


See more here about growing inside the house, and here chapter 22 of our shemitah book, about home gardens.