by Glen Swartwout

Everything grows at The Shire… well almost everything.  And some things grow faster than we might want, like grass and vines around orchard and garden plantings.  Cultivation is a process requiring our regular attention to help our favorite tasty food plants grow and prosper…



GMO-Free Zone (Photo credit: decorat)

The orchards are planted as food forests, with mixed varieties of fruits and nuts… Sounds much like the rest of Puna, if you add vegetables from the garden! (It’s true, and a joke, too…)  The best time to cultivate and feed plants is around the new moon.  They can be fed nitrogen by urinating just outside the drip line of the plants leaves, stimulating roots to grow out to get the nitrogen they need.  The chicken tractor can also be moved periodically through the orchard areas, keeping it away from main structures so chickens don’t try to roost in them.

Because grasses grow year round and some can grow six or even twelve feet high (most of our cane grass is already gone, thank goodness), and because maile pilau (‘stink vine’) can grow up to several inches in one day under optimal conditions, regular attention to plantings is crucial.  A good goal is to develop a bed of mulch and a ground cover around each tree.  Perrenial peanut or low growing desmodium are good potential choices, since they are both nitrogen fixers.  Nitrogen help feed the tree, rather than competing with it for the same nitrogen, like grasses would.  A good mulch is grass clippings once they are brown from the sun after cutting.  They are usually available close by and can be gathering by the handful in a five gallon bucket. Read the rest of this entry



English: Melting metal in a ladle for casting ...

Melting metal for casting. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


by Glen Swartwout

Metal is useful for many tools.  When kept well oiled in our ‘marine’ environment, these tools are one of the most precious and lasting sources of utility and value we have.  They are precious.  We paint bright colors on their handles so we do not lose them or forget to bring them home to a dry space when we are done using them.  Otherwise, like other material things, they melt back into the jungle… and are lost, sometimes forever.

On first glance the metal element is known as a specialty of the dwarf race, and thus also of particular interest to the earth hobbits who trace a good portion of their lineage to the dwarves.  They use metal implements to dig in the earth and harvest its riches of soil and rock, and even sparkling green olivine (peridot) crystals found at The Shire (just look closely at the greenish sand on the surface of the driveway!).  Metal, of course, is also classically abused by the orcs with their indiscriminate digging and scraping of the earth, often leaving linear scars and rectangular patches of ground flat, barren and… boring.  Dead.  We hear that they call these places ‘subdivisions.’  It all sounds scary to a poor hobbit…  But enough horror stories… We have glorious tales to tell of the hidden truth within the metal element. Read the rest of this entry



Phoenix sculpture burn at Rebirth at The Shire.


by Glen Swartwout

The Shire is located adjacent to the Burning Land of Mount Doom, otherwise known as Kilauea, the most active volcano on Earth… The tropical sun, also shines its celestial fire down upon this land, providing a year round growing season, balancing out the sometimes intense rainfall that keeps it a lush, green, flowering tropical paradise, and providing frequent rainbows, many double rainbows, and even magical moonbows that shine like mithreal silver.

Fire is a useful tool, particularly in a place with an abundance of moisture.  Ohia is an ideal firewood, being the sixth densest wood on the planet.  Of course we only harvest dead ohia trees!  Fire can be used for cooking (yum!), heating water (ahhhh!), drying bananas and other fruits, as well as smoking fish and meat for food preservation.  And with forethought, all of these functions can be served by a single fire, with a beehive lava rock oven (with an inner layer of cinderized lava rock used as fire brick, and an outer layer of black rock).  A single small fire can efficiently heat a massive heat sink of rock and mortar for all-day cooking heat, and embedded air and water pipes can carry this heat, or smoke and heat, as needed for adjunct drying, smoking and water heating processes. Read the rest of this entry


Underwater lava flow, off Hawaii

Pahoehoe lava flow in Hawaii (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


by Glen Swartwout

Dwarves and earth hobbits have an affinity for digging holes in the ground.  This is very useful for harvesting rock and soil, planting trees, building gardens, roads and paths, as well as providing material for rock and mortar construction of foundations and pillars, or dry laid rock construction such as traditional Hawaiian stone walls.  The essential process of harvesting these useful materials is one of sorting.

My Precious:

Basaltic pahoehoe lava takes so many forms, that an astute hobbit or dwarf will always keep their minds even sharper than their digging tools, to see what treasures they may unearth…  Naturally, when an orc digs out the same material using a diesel guzzling behemoth, all of these materials are broken and smashed together, and usually buried again without much thought… Read the rest of this entry



by Glen Swartwout

Humans and water hobbits have an affinity for water.  While The Shire rainforest environment famously supplies over 11 feet of rain water each year, keeping the aina lush and green, and blooming round the seasons, there is no naturally occurring surface water feature in the lands of Puna, except during floods, of course.  That is because the land itself is holey.  Holy, too, yes, sacred.  But full of holes as well.  Lava tubes carry underground streams to the sea.  Ground water percolates through many of the cindery, air pocked rock layers like it would through a sponge.  Only the dense blue rock of thick pahoehoe flows slows it down, or hold a bit in localized depressions in the flow.  That is why we dream of building a series of ponds, connected by waterways and wetlands, in addition to water catchments, cisterns, warm ponds, hot tubs, bath tubs and other water technologies.

One of the water technologies we look forward to developing is aquaponics, a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics for efficient utilization of resources for growing both plants and fish such as tilapia.  Growing the plants in raised aquaponic beds with copper feet in a greenhouse environment produces perfect slug free produce with zero waste and minimal need for processing. Read the rest of this entry


English: Hawaiian hale (house), Hilo, Hawaii

Hawaiian hale (house), Hilo, Hawaii (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


by Glen Swartwout

Wood elves enjoy the remote reaches of deep rainforest, while wood hobbits rarely stray very far from comfort of the The Shire, but prefer to inhabit the cool forest edges.  These Middle Earth dwellers are caretakers of forest glen and glade…  they take care in how they interact with the trees and the other creatures of the wood… And even help restore the forest magic, nearly visible amongst the ferns, moss and faerie rings, which can entice the return of the Mu.

Sometimes humans or even an occasional orc make their way into the forest, and one can tell where they have passed.  They use machetes to slash their way through the underbrush, wasting no time and taking no care to leave the forest in better shape than they found it.  Saplings slashed carelessly to a point create a weaponized forest terrain, where one slip on a wet guava root could be deadly.  That is why the hobbits and elves, when they cut a tree, cut it flush with the ground with a limb saw.  One can even step on the remaining stump by chance and not realize it.  No pain.  No danger.  No harm. Read the rest of this entry

Lava Cracks

English: A view mauka (toward the volcano) of ...

East Rift Zone of Kilauea Volcano. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


by Glen Swartwout

Crevices in the earth form near the Rift Zone of the most active volcano on Earth, as the land to our South (the unstable side of this fault line) sinks under the massive weight of the newest land on Earth, being deposited daily whenever the lava is flowing into the ocean… And this is a fact you will easily detect when heading to the beach, as you will see the cloud-like plume rising a thousand feet in the air.  At night if you get closer to the plume you may see it lit up by the red glow of lava exploding as it hits cool ocean water, as well as with internal lightning, electrical discharges traveling through plasma (ionized gas).  It is reminiscent of the Shekinah Glory, the Earthly presence of the Creator, which appears as a pillar of smoke by day, and a pillar of fire by night.

When surface lava flows pool up temporarily forming a lava lake, we sometimes even see the red glow reflected in the clouds from our cozy vantage point at The Shire, some five miles away.  Now doesn’t that make you feel safe?  It’s actually one of the safest volcanoes on the planet, because it rarely builds up pressure to produce an explosive eruption.  You can often walk right up to a lava flow, if you can stand the heat… I wonder why the banks and insurance companies refuse to do Orc business here… Read the rest of this entry

Lava Trees

English: Inside view of lava tree at Hawaii La...

Inside view of lava tree at Hawaii Lava Tree State Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


by Glen Swartwout

“I’m off to the Lava Tree…” said one hobbit to his fellow.

“Mind you don’t fall in!” came a retort of caution….

You see, lava tree moulds are holes in the earth that can easily be ten feet deep and up to two or three feet wide, a mould formed around a tree by a lava flow, leaving a void where the tree once stood.  At the bottom of the hole is typically a bit of a wider bell where the butt end of the tree broadened out into its root structure.


If you see a Lava Tree sign on a small building that looks like a hobbit’s hideaway, or maybe a tardis… It’s a pun (remember we are located in Puna): if it were a real lavatory, it would have hot and cold running water, not just hot (and actually the best place for that hot nitrogenous water is just beyond the drip line of the orchard trees, banana plants or best of all – coconut palms).  Since a tree mould is like a glass bottle, a deep one is a perfect container for long-term humanure composting.  When full, simply move the Lava Tree structure to the next deep gaping hole to fill, and plant a tree with a tap root.  It will be one happy tree! Read the rest of this entry

Lava Tubes and the Underground

Close-up of a skylight on coastal plain, Hawai...

Close-up of a skylight on coastal plain, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, with lava stalactites forming on the roof of the lava tube. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


by Glen Swartwout

Lava tubes are fun!  Not to mention intriguing entrances to the underworld of the Mu…

Sculpting underground rooms is perhaps considered less fun by many, but there are those of us who enjoy this sort of challenge!  Just look at the underground chapel at the Damanhur community in Italy!

We are still searching for an entrance to the Mines of Moria, but we have discovered some lovely lava tubes that might be large enough for an Earth hobbit or a dwarf to inhabit… with a little sprucing up, of course…  Although a hard hat might still be recommended, especially for humans or the absent minded… Read the rest of this entry