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Pruning lemon trees now while they are still sixth-year

Rabbi Moshe Bloom

I have an orange tree and our neighbor's lemon tree overhangs our property. Does this mean that we can trim back the trees before they have kedushah status as well?

Pruning fruit trees during shemitah not for the tree's benefit (1)

Rabbi Moshe Bloom

I have two fruit trees hanging over into neighbor's gardens. One is laden with fruit and one is a pomegranate so it will drop all its leaves into their pool. Routinely I would cut them back for the clients' and neighbors' sanity. Not for the tree. Am I allowed to do this during shemitah or because it is a fruit tree you can't?

Prefilled fertilizer pumps in gardens

Rabbi Moshe Bloom

Many gardens have automatic fertilizer pumps that draw when the irrigation functions. I assume this is not allowed during the shemitah year even though automatically programmed and filled before Rosh Hashanah?

Digging up soil in the Land of Israel for burial abroad

Rabbi Moshe Bloom

In the Diaspora, it is customary to be buried with some earth from the Land of Israel. Is it permissible to dig up soil for this purpose during the shemitah year?

Deadheading flowers

Rabbi Moshe Bloom

Is it permissible to deadhead flowers for aesthetic purposes only? not to promote new growth, just because the dead flowers look ugly.

Setting up balcony gardens during shemitah

Rabbi Moshe Bloom

We have recently received many inquiries on gardening during shemitah. Often, since shemitah laws are unfamiliar, many assume that everything is forbidden. However, as you can see below, it always pays to ask. Below are two questions I was asked by a shemitah-observant gardener:

Question: I have been asked to "plant" a balcony garden. I don't have time before shemitah. It is on the 9th floor of a tall building, not penthouse floor. There are balconies below and above the balcony. Does this constitute planting to move plants in pots from the nursery and placing them on the tiled concrete balcony during the shemitah year?

Replenishing pots during shemitah

Rabbi Moshe Bloom

I have a newly planted garden. Weeds from the nursery have really enjoyed the fertilizer and compost. Can I remove them to protect the plant? These are not the kind of weeds you can cut at soil surface as will just come back stronger.

Transplanting a tree during the shemitah year

Rabbi Yaakov Epstein

In the yard adjacent to my house construction will start soon, slated to begin after Rosh Hashanah. There are fruit trees growing in the yard: citrus, loquat, and plum trees. These trees will need to be uprooted and replanted during the shemitah year. Under which conditions can trees be transplanted during shemitah? The construction work cannot begin before Rosh Hashanah, and these are large fruit trees. What about orlah—will the trees need to restart their orlah count?

Sowing seeds of shemitah produce

Rabbis of Torah VeHa'aretz Institute

Is it permissible to sow seeds of fruits that have kedushat shevi'it?

Experiments during the shemitah year

Rabbi Yehuda HaLevy Amichay

Dear Rabbi Yehuda,

I'm doing a master's degree on botany in the Faculty of Agriculture. I am currently looking into pursuing a doctorate, and was wondering if this is possible, since the shemitah year falls out during that time. I am studying wheat and am performing experiments in the field and in planters, perform tests that destroy the plants, and produce DNA and RNA. Can I do this type of practical research during the shemitah year? If so, which tests may I perform and which are forbidden?