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Q&A

Watering and fertilizing for planters

Rabbi Yehuda HaLevy Amichay

We generally water our plants (growing in planters) with kitchen leftovers, such as water we used to soak hummus kernels or leftover tea/coffee. The purpose of this is to minimize kitchen waste and fertilize without chemicals. Can we continue to do this doing the shemitah year?

Spraying pesticides and pruning for shape maintenance during shemitah

Rabbi Avraham Socholovsky, Torah VeHa'aretz Institute
  1. Is it permissible to spray trees with pesticides in areas where pests are generally attracted to?
  2. Today olive trees are often shaped into balls in home gardens. Following the opinion that pruning fruit trees is a Torah prohibition, is it permissible to prune them during shemitah in order to preserve their shape?

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

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?

Digging to harvest sweet potatoes during shemitah

Rabbi Avraham Sochovolsky

I planted sweet potatoes in my garden this year (sixth year, 5781). Is it permissible to dig in the ground unearth the bulbs during shemitah (in small quantities, for home consumption)?

Guidelines for a new garden during shemitah

Agronomist Dr. Motty Shomron

We are building our house but the yard will not really be ready yet for serious planting by Rosh Hashanah. I tried to inquire and research what my options are. I want to make sure I understood correctly: Until Rosh Hashanah I can still plant flowers and decorative (non-fruit) trees whose roots are encased in soil. After Rosh Hashanah, I can only place on the ground plants that come in planters or flower pots that grew in shemitah-observant nurseries. I will need to keep the plants in place and not move them until the end of the year. Did I understand correctly? Do the pots need to be perforated or not?

Feeding animals clippings from fruit trees during shemitah

Dr. Mordechai Shomron, agronomist

I live in a moshav and I have a petting zoo with seven goats.
Every so often I prune the trees in the garden, such as olive, loquat, avocado, and mango trees, and feed the clippings to the goats. I wanted to know if I can continue doing this during the shemitah year with the olive trees (which are growing only for ornamental purposes; I don’t use or eat the olives)?

Covered balcony gardens during shemitah

Rabbi Moshe Bloom

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?

Gardening guidelines in a nutshell for private gardens with a vegetable patch

Rabbi Ehud Ahituv

Could you please give me detailed guidelines ahead of the coming shemitah year for my home garden that has fruit trees and a vegetable patch? I want to know about the major prohibitions, advanced preparation necessary, and modes of permissible care throughout the year.

Shemitah QA 3

Rabbis of Torah VeHa'aretz Institute

Several days ago, I received a cactus plant in a small perforated planter. The planter is very small and soon will not have enough room for the cactus.

  1. Can I plant it in my yard or in a larger planter? How should I go about doing it?
  2. What should I do with the plant to prevent it from withering up and dying?

Trees possibly planted during shemitah

Rabbi Yehuda HaLevy Amichay

I harvested olives from olive trees that were planted during the shemitah year. The trees belong to the municipality, a local authority, and I received permission to harvest them. Four years passed from the time they were planted, and when I harvested the olives I didn't know that they were planted during the shemitah year. The trees were planted together with their clod of soil. Is there a way to use the olives? Could selling the olives to a non-Jew and buying them back help in any way?