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Kilei HaKerem abroud:


I have a garden in my small backyard in Brooklyn. My backyard is largely concrete with a small rectangle of soil in the back right corner. In the front left corner of the soil area, there is a single old grapevine that has been there since before we purchased our house 8 years ago. It produces grapes. I recently learned that Kilei HaKerem applies in Chu"l and wanted to make sure we arrange things properly. I have four basic questions:

(1) About one foot behind the trunk of the grapevine (i.e, the part where it comes out of the ground) we built a raised-garden bed (which sits on the soil). The garden bed is made out of wood and is two feet high. We usually plant lettuces, squash, and cucumbers in that garden bed. Do I have to worry at all about what is planted in that raised bed and its proximity to the trunk grapevine?

(2) To the right of the trunk of the grapevine we plant carrots and lavender in the ground. Those plantings are at least two feet away from where the grapevine comes out of the ground. Do we need to worry about that? In general, how far away do we need to make sure to start other plantings?

(3) In front of the grapevine, on the concrete section of my backyard we have some planters with herbs in them. Do we have to worry about proximity to the grapevine?

(4) We don't trellis the vine. It tends to spread out in lots of directions as vines tend to do. Do we have to worry about proximity to the actual vine part or just the trunk? If it is not too much of an imposition, I would be grateful if you could provide citations to support your answers. I would love to learn about these things inside the relevant sources. 


Rabbi Moshe Bloom

Kilei hakerem are prohibited outside of Israel miderabanan (See Rambam, Hilchot Kila'im 5:1-4). 

The basic distance that there needs to be between one grapevine and vegetables is one ama (6 tefachim). According to Rabbi Chaim Na'eh, this distance is 48cm (he rules that a tefach is 8 cm), but the Chazon Ish holds that this distance is 57.6 cm (his opinion is that a tefech is 9.6 cm). At Torah VeHa'aretz Institute, we follow the former opinion.

In principle, the distance of one ama is from the trunk of the grapevine to the stem of the vegetable. However, if the grapevine spreads out more than an ama and hangs over the vegetables, this, too, is prohibited (Rambam Kila'im 6:11).

It is permitted to plant vegetables outside of the branches of the grapevine, without having to distance them by an ama (provided that there is an ama between the trunk of the vine and the vegetables). But this is as long as there is no change that the vine will spread out and hang over the vegetables (see Radbaz on Rambam, Kila'im 6:11).

Does the elevated garden bed have holes in the bottom (so the roots can peek out)? If so, it is considered a perforated pot (עציץ נקוב), and the vegetables are considered growing in the ground. If there are no holes, it is considered an unperforated pot (עציץ שאינו נקוב). While it is prohibited to plant vegetables in an unperforated pot alongside a grapevine, bedi'avad, the grapevine is not prohibited (Rambam Kila'im 5:16). Rabbi Shaul Yisraeli (Eretz Chemda, p. 69) says that if it is only a single grapevine, then even the vegetables are not prohibited bedi'avad.

Herbs planted on a concrete surface are considered in an unperforated port, since the concrete disconnects the plant from the soil. Where herbs are concerned, some are considered vegetables and thus it is forbidden to plant them next to a grapevine. However, there are herbs that are halachically considered trees, so it is permitted to plant them next to a grapevine. For a comprehensive classification of herbs, click here. If the herb is considered a vegetable, it should be distanced am ama from the grapevine, even if it is planted on the concrete.

See here for additional halachot that pertain to your question.