Important halachic issues to consider when planting trees and vegetables in a private garden
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I live in the Jerusalem area and have a garden. I would like to start a vegetable patch and also plant some fruit trees. Could you please tell me about the halachic issues I have to take into account?
Kilei zera’im: It is forbidden to plant two different types of any combination of: annual seeds, root cuttings or sprouts together, and it is also forbidden to plant two different types of plants in close proximity. You need a 15 cm separation between each type of vegetable; and a 48 cm separation between vegetables and legumes.
Grafting: It is forbidden to graft two varieties of trees, where the scion (shoot) is from one variety and the stock (trunk) is from another (Hichot Ha’aretz, pp. 198–202 lists the permitted and forbidden scion-stock combinations).
Orlah: During the tree’s first three years, its fruit is forbidden for consumption and benefit. (From an Agronomical perspective, it is a good idea to clip the blossoms to prevent wasting the tree’s energy; if fruit already developed, you should pick them and throw them away so that no one accidentally consumes the orlah fruit.)
In the fourth year, the fruit will have the status of neta revay, and you can eat them after transferring their sanctity to a coin, with a blessing.
Taking teruma and ma’aser
G-d willing, when your vegetables grow and you harvest them, and when you harvest the fruit of your trees from the fifth year on, you will have to take teruma and ma’aser with a blessing. Check first whether it is a ma’aser ani year or a ma’aser sheni year (in which case you will have to transfer the sanctity to a coin).
I recommend that you order our new book, Hilchot Ha’aretz in this link (in Hebrew), which encompasses all of the halachot of the mitzvot tied to the Land of Israel as they apply to private homes and gardens.