THE SIZE OF THE PATCH AND ITS BORDERS
Question: What is the source that Chachamim can rely on this Yedi'ah?
Answer (R. Chiya bar Aba): "Lo Sasig Gevul Re'echa Asher Govlu Rishonim" - one may not impinge on a Gevul (limit) that the early ones set.
Question: What does it mean "Asher Govlu Rishonim"?
Answer (R. Shmuel bar Nachmani) Question: Why does it say "Eleh Venei Se'ir ha'Chori Yoshvei ha'Aretz" - does everyone else live in Shamayim?!
Answer: They were experts in Yishuv ha'Aretz (agriculture) - they could tell which stretch of land is good for olives, which for vines, which for figs;
'Chori' (we reverse the word to expound it) - they would Meri'ach (smell) the land;
(Rav Papa): 'Chivi' (one of the seven Kana'ani nations) - they would taste the land like a Chavya (snake - it eats dirt).
(Rav Acha bar Yakov): 'Chori' - they became Benei Chorin (freed) of their possessions (they lost their land and the responsibility to work it).
(Rav Asi): The patch is six by six, excluding the borders (a walkway around the perimeter for irrigation).
Support (Beraisa): The interior of the patch is six [by six].
Question: How wide are the borders?
Answer (Mishnah - R. Yehudah): The width is the width of a foot.
(R. Zeira): R. Yehudah learns from "V'Hishkisa v'Raglecha k'Gan ha'Yarak" - just like a foot is a Tefach wide, also the borders are a Tefach wide.
WHAT SURROUNDS THE PATCH?
(Rav): The Mishnah discusses a patch in a Churbah (uncultivated area - therefore, we are not concerned for distance from anything outside the patch).
Question: Why did Rav need to say that the patch is in a Churbah - it could be among other seeded patches, the corners separate between species in different patches! (Rashi - he could have established the case to be that he sows less than half of each side (like in Rashi's picture); Tosfos - presumably, he sowed only [about] the middle two Tefachim on each side, in order to distance each side three Tefachim from the seeds on the adjacent sides. See diagram #1 in graphics section, graphic 1b.)
Answer (Bei Rav): The case is, he filled the 'corners' (really, two opposite edges; he also sowed three tiny areas in between these two edges)- therefore, the patch must be in a Churbah). (See diagram #1 in graphics section, graphic 3a.)
Question: It would be better to seed the surrounding patches, and leave the corners of this patch empty!
Answer: Chachamim decreed not to do so, lest one fill the corners.
Question: This should be permitted, like a patch of vegetables shaped like a triangle!
(Mishnah): If a triangle of vegetables enters a field [seeded with something else] it is permitted, for it is clear that it is the end of another field (i.e. they are not growing together).
Answer: The leniency of a triangle does not apply to [two] patches [rather, only when at least one of the species is a whole field].
(Shmuel): The Mishnah discusses a patch among other seeded patches.
Question: If so, the [leaves of] species on the sides will mix with other species in the neighboring patches (they are separated only by two borders, i.e. two Tefachim)!
Answer: The case is, he sows only part [less than half of] each side [if he sowed in the northern half of the east edge of this patch, he sows in the southern half of the west edge of the patch neighboring on the east, to avoid the above problem].
FILLING A GARDEN WITH DIFFERENT SPECIES
Version #1 (Rashi) Question: If one made a furrow from [the middle of] one side of the patch to the other [and sowed one of the five species or a sixth in it], what is the law?
Answer #1 (Rav Sheshes): This forbids [sowing any other species in the whole patch].
Answer #2 (Rav Asi): This does not forbid.
Question (against Rav Sheshes - Ravina - Mishnah): If one planted two rows of gourds, [and next to them] two rows of pumpkin, and two rows of Mitzri beans, it is permitted (it is as if each of these is a field by itself);
If one planted one row of each of these, it is forbidden.
Answer (Rav Ashi): There is different, for they have long branches that intermingle (the different species blatantly appear to be mixed together).
Version #1 (R. Yochanan): If one wants to fill his entire garden with vegetables, he makes patches of six by six and makes a circle inside the five by five square in the middle - he may sow [five different species,] in the circle and in the four corners (Tosfos - of the inner square; Rashi - the 'corners' are the four half-Tefach strips surrounding the inner square. Diverse species may grow without separation, from the shape it is Nikar that they are not growing together. Rambam - he sows in circles in the four corners - see diagram #2 in graphics section ).
Question: If he [indeed fills the entire garden and also] sows the borders [surrounding each patch], different species mix [without Heker]!
Answer #1 (D'vei R. Yanai): He does not sow the borders (R. Yochanan did not mean that he literally fills the entire garden).
Answer #2 (Rav Ashi): If this patch was sown horizontally, he sows the adjacent one vertically, and vice-versa.
Version #2 (Rambam) (R. Yochanan): If one wants to fill his entire garden with vegetables, he makes five circles in a patch of six by six (one in the middle and four in the corners - he may sow a different species in each circle) and may sow (other species) in the four corners.
Question: [He cannot fill the entire garden like this,] he must leave the area between the circles fallow!
Answer #1 (D'vei R. Yanai): Indeed, he does not fill the entire garden.
Answer #2 (Rav Ashi): If the circles were sown horizontally, he sows the area between them vertically, and vice-versa. (end of Version #2)
Question (Ravina - Beraisa): The space that must be left between different vegetables for tending them is [five species within] six Tefachim (like our Mishnah); we view them as if they were a square.
Inference: This is permitted only if they are like a square, not if they are like a circle!
Answer (Rav Ashi): The Beraisa requires them to be like a square for a different leniency, for a triangle to emerge from it [and reach to another species].