Author Topic: No dig system and the moon  (Read 1453 times)

Beersmith

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No dig system and the moon
« on: December 10, 2018, 12:32:48 »
It's that time of year when people say "what would you like for Christmas?  And to be honest I have no idea.

But then I thought, perhaps a gardening book. Now a book on the basics would not be suitable as I've been at this lark for a good few years. So I thought perhaps a Charles Dowding book on the no dig system. Learn something new and maybe try it on part of my plot. But he has written several books so which title?

So I go on line and start to browse, and make use of the Amazon look inside feature to help me choose.  And there I make a discovery that causes me real dismay. Several books contain chapters on gardening and sowing  according to the phases of the moon.

This is a big disappointment to me. If there is one thing that really pushes my buttons it is pseudo science. I detest things like astrology, crystal healing, mysticism, homeopathy and all the other silly mumbo jumbo that is so common these days.

Now I wasn't expecting the no dig methods to have been scientifically tested and subjected to peer review but I was expecting practical sensible advice, and an absence of silly woo. Can others who own or have read his books comment on the overall tone of the books. I could grudgingly tolerate perhaps just one chapter, but more than that and I'll be taking it off the Christmas wish list.

Any thoughts?



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No dig system and the moon
« on: December 10, 2018, 12:32:48 »

Jim Stephens

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Re: No dig system and the moon
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2018, 22:11:13 »
I have his "Organic Gardening the natural no-dig way" book and there is a four page chapter about the moon in a book of 240 pages. In "Salad Leaves for all seasons" there is no mention of the moon at all, even in a section of notes about sowing outdoors. I think I initially thought he was just putting it in lately to appeal to the biodynamic fringe, without really believing it or following it himself, but in truth I don't know. I have a bad habit of buying books, skimming a few pages and putting them away; no-dig is a supremely simple concept, you don't dig and spread a couple of inches of compost each autumn. You still need to be very aware of your own soil conditions, local climate, type of compost available and so on, and make adjustments accordingly.

Beersmith

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Re: No dig system and the moon
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2018, 23:05:28 »
Thank you Jim,

Rather reassuring. Sounds like it's only a very minor part of the whole concept and perhaps easily ignored.

But given the basic simplicity of no dig, maybe I don't need a book after all.

Hmmmm.

Aftershave! Maybe I'll ask for aftershave.

« Last Edit: December 10, 2018, 23:07:46 by Beersmith »
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ACE

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Re: No dig system and the moon
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2018, 07:50:52 »


Aftershave! Maybe I'll ask for aftershave.


Be careful what you wish for, there are quite a few zodiac named ones about.

DrJohnH

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Re: No dig system and the moon
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2018, 08:49:05 »
May be a bit heavy and maybe not the practical manual you are looking for ("no dig" is taught well on You Tube), but what about Plot 29 by Allan Jenkins- see below for a sample:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/mar/12/allan-jenkins-plot-29-gardening-is-my-therapy-extract-fostering

Beersmith

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Re: No dig system and the moon
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2018, 09:46:09 »


Aftershave! Maybe I'll ask for aftershave.


Be careful what you wish for, there are quite a few zodiac named ones about.

Very good point that!

Socks!  Maybe I'll ask for socks!
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ancellsfarmer

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Re: No dig system and the moon
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2018, 23:22:00 »
I have two of Charles Dowdings' books, being 'Salad leaves for all seasons' & 'Winter Vegetables', both autographed. Some information is in each as appropriate. Considered excellent value. I do not think one needs all of them (10 titles?. They are not a 'series', as such.
Each may mention biodynamics but do not revolve around it. Much of 'accepted wisdom' in gardening perpetuates what "Grandad did", without questioning it. New science often 'discovers' what we have always 'known'; possibly providing the correlation to explain why, not how. Charles does refute some 'folklore', especially relating when he has discovered that 'old wives tales' do not match his experience.
My feelings about the works of , say, Rupert Steiner, revolve around thinking about why he thought his methods could be valid, rather than whether they could work for me. Much of the success in gardening is in the confidence one develops in succeeding, rather than the routines or rigours one endures.
Good observation of the results of experiments and events build the knowledge one accrues, and may establish whether , in fact, all the little weeds are actually planted by fairies during the twilight hours.
Freelance cultivator qualified within the University of Life.

Beersmith

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Re: No dig system and the moon
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2018, 22:41:03 »
Interesting comment.

I tend to find people like ?? Rudolf ?? Steiner interesting, but only to a rather limited degree. Like many philosophers highly intelligent, highly ethical, but all too often lacking any grasp of the scientific method.

In Steiner's case the observation that soil fertility can be maintained and even improved by use of manure and compost, whereas synthetic fertilizer can reduce fertility turns out to be a sensible scientific idea, even if he never seemed interested in gathering any supporting empirical evidence. A sample of soil under a microscope teems with living organisms of all sorts. It certainly seems possible this could influence the healthy growth of plants whose roots sit in the soil.

But an uncritical acceptance that the phases of the moon and the position of the planets will influence plant growth seems sloppy thinking at best and crackpot at worst. The moon is a long way away. The only measurable influence ever detected by science is a gravitational effect, and a little reflected sunlight. The effects relate to the earth's rotation, as with tides so occur daily not monthly. Although we talk informally about it waxing and waning, that is only a visual effect, it remains in a tidally locked orbit, and it's mass is unchanging.

Science doesn't know everything, but it does know a great deal. I suppose it all depends on your approach to the unknowns. Some people think anything is possible - ghosts, magic, fairies, father Christmas, reincarnation, astrology, the list is almost endless. These are fairly outlandish ideas. My position is that the burden of proof rests with those making the claim. I'll take any idea seriously when it is supported by a body of carefully  compiled empirical evidence.

Nice to have a cordial exchange on a topic without it getting heated but may need to leave it here as this is hardly about allotments anymore.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2018, 23:06:50 by Beersmith »
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Obelixx

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Re: No dig system and the moon
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2018, 23:08:55 »
All too often, "rigorous" science plays catch up to things ordinary men and women have known and observed for centuries.   I can well remember Geoff Hamilton being roundly criticised when he first started advocating environmentally responsible garden and gradually became completely organic.    Some scientists finally get around to asking the  medical fratquestion and bingo, organically managed soil has more microbial activity than agrichem soil and greater fertility.

Plant based remedies are usually derived as old wives' tales or folk medicine but, lo and behold, "science" is now finding cures and treatments in just such plants - willow, yew etc.

There's lots of anecdotal evidence that sowing, planting or harvesting according to the phases of the moon works but there is no commercial interest in proving we don't need all the fertilisers and pesticides that global agrichem conglomerates spend so much money making, promoting and selling.

I wouldn't dismiss an otherwise good and helpful book just because of a few pages or a chapter.   When's the last time you read a manual or guide book and found every single word relevant to you and your interests?

Obxx - Vendée France

galina

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Re: No dig system and the moon
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2018, 07:40:11 »
With regard to the moon, yes it does pull water, spring tides are a fact and we hear about them in coastal weather forecast warnings. 

Is the water table also higher on our plots during the same time as spring tides?  I don't know the answer to that.  If yes, it could well matter to plants growing in it. 

Is there enough extra light for photosynthesis during full moon?  There is a clear difference walking in unlit areas with and without full moonlight for humans.  And please don't remind me of my one and only episode of sleep walking on holiday in Greece during a full moon night, when it was very bright and I woke up outside, camera in hand, having just taken a photo of the full moon!  Chances are that it affects plants. 

You could argue that the folks who have written about gardening by the moon and found it to work have done their bit to prove it.  And it is down to those who poo poo it to prove otherwise, not the other way round.  Chris Byrd from Sparsholt agricultural college reported during a lecture at Hampshire Potato Day significant yield increases with potatoes when they tried it.  And he said that this astonished and surprised him and that they had not expected to see differences.  That seems a pretty scientific finding, however small the sample.  If hundred growers grow and report the same, then valid statistics emerge.  This would need funding and wider interest in this research and that is hard to come by.

Does no-dig work?  For Charles Dowding very well.  There are of course as many gardening methods as there are gardeners.  And they are all equally valid. 

Live and let live, or rather "garden and let garden" 
:wave:

 

Beersmith

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Re: No dig system and the moon
« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2018, 21:04:13 »

Is there enough extra light for photosynthesis during full moon?

No.

The usual maximum intensity of the full moon on a clear night is 0.3 lux. Phases of the moon and any cloud cover diminishes this further. A dark overcast day reaches 150.  Full daylight but out of direct sunlight reached 10,000. Full sunlight is at least 30,000 and may reach 100,000.

Our eyes do not measure lux accurately. Pupils dilate in low light and constrict in bright light. That is why scientific instruments are used to measure it and we do not rely on our personal visual impression. One single additional hour of sunlight provides more light for photosynthesis than hundreds of full moon nights.

Spring and Neap tides are certainly real, but the effects are small in comparison to the difference between high and low tides. If you wish to suggest they are important you will also need to explain why they have a disproportionate effect compared to much larger regular high and low tides effects that are taking place twice daily. Spring tides occur with new moons as well as full moons.

Also the water table is the point at which the ground is saturated. Plants need moisture but most will die if their roots are in ground that is saturated. For most of us growers, the water table sits well below the ground in which we grow. So what mechanism would be in action to produce a remote effect? Possible, but very very unlikely, and as I originally suggested the more improbable the claim the greater the obligation on the person making the claim to provide the hard evidence.

Sowing seeds is an artificial process. Gathering seeds, storing in packets and then sowing in spring is not what happens in nature. In nature seeds get scattered and sit on or near the surface until warmth and moisture allows germination. So how would seeds ever acquire the properties claimed? To me these observations, taken together, suggest that the moon having any marked influence on plant growth is highly improbable.

This brings us to anecdotal evidence. Now this is important and I do not dismiss it casually. It is often a valuable starting point. It can spark ideas, cause people to investigate further and can sometimes be validated by further scientific research. But on its own it is not enough.

Homeopathy has been scientifically studied in considerable depth and shown to be no better than placebo effect. Scientists suspected this because the preparation methods produce distilled water.  But you will always have a supply of people who will record using it and getting some benefit. These anecdotes will never amount to robust scientific evidence.

In the late 1790s it was a common anecdote that milk maids never caught smallpox. Further investigation established that it was those milk maids who had caught cow pox who then avoided small pox. This resulted in the work of Jenner to pioneer smallpox vaccine. But over the years scientific study has established how and why it works, has improved and enhanced the technique and today this one time global scourge has been completely eliminated. The anecdote was proved by science.

So anecdote, and personal experiences play a part, but only science can properly resolve if the ideas have some basis in reality or are simply mumbo jumbo.
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Beersmith

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Re: No dig system and the moon
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2018, 21:35:49 »
All too often, "rigorous" science plays catch up to things ordinary men and women have known and observed for centuries.

With respect, I do not agree. I think your argument lacks balance.

Yes, there are numerous examples of traditional knowledge being subsequently proven correct by scientific evidence but there are equally many examples of traditional knowledge being proven to be complete rubbish.

For centuries it was a matter of simple observation that the sun went around the earth. My grandmother was 100% sure you could determine the sex of an unborn child by swinging a cork over the mother's stomach. In Chaucer's time everyone new that illness was an imbalance in the blood, yellow bile, black bile or phlegm in their bodies. I think we may forget how many completely incorrect theories that were once held true have been abandoned over the years leaving a few that do, indeed, have some basis in fact.

There are good reasons why the motto of the Royal Society is "Nullus in verba"  meaning take no ones word at face value but verify every claim by facts and evidence determined by experiment.

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Beersmith

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Re: No dig system and the moon
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2018, 21:47:44 »
To Galina and Obelixx,

While we may disagree, and I may try to put my views a bit forcefully, I hope I have been sufficiently cordial not to cause you any upset. You advanced your own argumens politely and with good grace, and I found them thought provoking. I am pleased that we have had an interesting and good natured exchange of views
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Tee Gee

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Re: No dig system and the moon
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2018, 22:55:00 »
Quote
I am pleased that we have had an interesting and good natured exchange of views

...and I for one have enjoyed the views given.

Regarding " Moonphase Gardening" I have never been a great believer in the astrology angle, but I do have a gut feeling that " Barometric Pressure"and this is " Moon" related plays an important part  in gardening,

So much so that. I have been experimenting for the last few years but as yet I do not have sufficient correlation to publish my views.

I have always wondered how perennials know when to emerge and as I have lots of spring bulbs in my garden I thought I would record when they emerged each year and compare these dates with my sowing dates that are the result of averaging out my sowing times since 1986.

What I have noticed it that Snowdrops often emerge when I am sowing subjects such as Onions and many half hardy plants. Similarly crocus often flower when I am sowing the bulk of my veg that will require transplanting e.g. brassicas. When the Daffodils appear I tend to be sowing Tomatoes and Peppers. When the Tulips appear  I am generally hardening things off then when the Daffodils are dying back I am preparing for Planting Out!

I have also noticed that during this period the barometric pressure is generally rising (if you level out he peaks and troughs)

Now as most of you know my website is laid out in a calendar fashion from weeks 1-52 but you will also know that plants do not follow a calendar as such so anything I plan on doing in week 1 might not fit in with plant cycles,hence my experiment!

So for the last few years I have considered week 1 to start on not the 1st January but when the snowdrops appear so if the come out in mid January ( circa week3) I would delay all my week numbers as in this case by two weeks.

To date I have found this has worked quite well but the problems start appearing some weeks later.

To explain: We all know that in a late season plants seem to have a way to catch up meaning I am having to find a way to catch up as well if I want to fit in with the rest of the season.

To do this I have to play around with my heating system and lighting as late season are often the result of cold dull weather so I have to move stuff around a bit to give it the best conditions I can must.

Now plants have had millions of years to adapt to weather patterns I have only had two or three years hence my indifferent results but I am having fun and I am still producing quite good crops.

Well apart from this year which I put down to the Beast from the East and the very high summer temperatures.

In fact my thoughts during this summer were if this type of weather continues the breeders will have to get the finger out and breed new species to replace the indigenous British plant species that are not designed for weather  such as we have had this year. What I noticed  on my plot was that species that originated from warmer climes did quite well, but the indigenous stuff faired quite poorly.

Sorry if I have gone on a bit but as I said; I have enjoyed previous thoughts on the moonphase issue so. I though I would drop a bit more potential controversy into the mix :icon_santa:








ACE

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Re: No dig system and the moon
« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2018, 08:14:53 »
Moon and tides. There is a good chance of ebb and flow under the ground especially reclaimed ground and how may fens, bogs and wetland were part of the river systems before they silted up and became arable land. There is a cemetery near here that in wet weather they can only have funerals at low tide. All water gravitates to the sea so any back pressure will hold the flow back. I expect the moon does not have a pull on damp ground direct but the rise and fall of the tides might affect the drainage. Centuries ago when humans started growing crops perhaps the moon signaled the time you could work the ground.

Beersmith

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Re: No dig system and the moon
« Reply #15 on: December 15, 2018, 13:43:05 »
Quote
I am pleased that we have had an interesting and good natured exchange of views

...and I for one have enjoyed the views given.

In fact my thoughts during this summer were if this type of weather continues the breeders will have to get the finger out and breed new species to replace the indigenous British plant species that are not designed for weather  such as we have had this year. What I noticed  on my plot was that species that originated from warmer climes did quite well, but the indigenous stuff faired quite poorly.


Tee Gee, as a respected and venerable contributor to these threads, I'd be interested to hear your views on the changing seasons.  Do you feel spring is arriving a little earlier? Do you feel our summers are a hotter and dryer? Each year is unique so it is hard to be sure what is variation and what is real change.

With your many years experience and your habit of record keeping, What are your observations?
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Tee Gee

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Re: No dig system and the moon
« Reply #16 on: December 15, 2018, 16:40:49 »
Quote
With your many years experience and your habit of record keeping, What are your observations?

As mentioned in my thread their doesn't seem to be any specific pattern emerging other than we don't seem to have distinct seasons any more! e.g. Spring-Summer-Autumn-Winter .

For example; 2017 we had an exceptionally warm April followed by a very cold May which in my opinion is a really bad thing for gardeners!

In April the weather was suited to planting stuff out had it been ready but as I was working to my Spring flower calendar (see prev thread) I seem to recall; the spring flowers were flowering pretty much as they would in a normal Winter/Spring.

However the warm weather killed off my Daffodils very quickly and the Tulips came into flower somewhat early.

My fruit trees came in to 'bud burst mode' which is very early in this part of the world and I was concerned that if they flowered there would be very few if any pollinators about, and sadly they did flower but strangely enough quite a few pollinators came out of hibernation and did the business!

Then in come May and it turned out to be a very cold May.

What I found that my stuff was ready for planting out but the weather (in my opinion) was not conducive to planting out  so I held back as long as I could before planting out.

In the end this threw me around 3-4 week behind but as always due to the resilience of the plants (not me) my harvests were pretty much normal.

Another thing that this abnormal weather did was;  it affected the pollinators life cycle,

According to the press this was experienced over the whole nation not just in my patch and there was great concern being shown by many growers.

What I noticed was that those pollinators that came out in April suffered in May because there was very little, if any plants in flower  due to the cold spell.

As I mentioned previously; my Spring flowers were burned off in April and the May flowers was delayed! Meaning there was very little feeding around for those early pollinators so I guess many of them died off, added to that beneficial insects such as Ladybirds that year were very few, and it is my opinion these died off at birth due to the cold!

OK the rest of the  year went ahead in a fairly normal manner and I harvested fruit and veg that was of good quality and quantity.


2018: well for me it was probably one of the most disappointing years I have ever had which I put partially down to the weather and the fact that since July I had planned on giving up at the end of the year so I don't think I put the same effort into my growing regime.

In terms of weather; the year started off pretty normal, then we got "The Beast from the East" which I found was not much of a problem to me as it was no worse than what I have experienced years ago when we really got 'Winters'

I think the most difficult thing I found was coping with the extremely high heat.

For example I have never in all my gardening experience had to shade my stuff from the sun and that coupled with the lack of rain my watering regime was greatly increased. This was another thing that I have never had to go to such extremes to ensure my plants had sufficient moisture!

What I ended up with was the crops were pretty much the same quality of past years but the size right across the board of my produce was much smaller than normal.So much so that crops that I normally store e.g Onions and Potatoes which usually last me into March/April were finished in mid-December!

Fruit was generally excellent apart from my early Strawberries which were due for replacement plus I think suffering from "The Beast of the East"

 
In 2016 I re-wrote my website in part which meant correlating my recent diaries with those that I had used in previous editions.

What I particularly looked for was; " Effects of Global Warming" and to be quite honest there was not a great difference. I probably would say that early season tasks (sowing etc) were a few days earlier to my previous averages but I am not sure if I would put this down to " Global Warming" alone.

What I found was that due to the milder winters and my Spring Flower calendar I was starting things off around a week earlier!

So the question is the milder winters down to " Global Warming"?

I don't know so I will leave that to anyone reading this article.

OK I hope that answers your request Beersmith.

My conclusion would be:

Something is happening with the weather in my opinion but I am not convinced that it 'Permanent'so I guess only time will tell!




Beersmith

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Re: No dig system and the moon
« Reply #17 on: December 15, 2018, 19:56:03 »
Thanks Tee Gee, interesting observations.

Well, the science behind global warming is very solid. Much of the evidence locks together like a jigsaw.

But the difficulty is that it definitely does not mean that everywhere gets equally just a little bit warmer. What we will get in our own specific locality is very difficult to predict. 

But we have already burned enough fossil fuel to ensure the warming will continue for decades even if we stopped burning tomorrow.  So, personally, I doubt things will "return to normal" and I think more change is in the pipeline. I hope we are not in for a very rough ride.
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galina

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Re: No dig system and the moon
« Reply #18 on: December 16, 2018, 04:39:33 »


But the difficulty is that it definitely does not mean that everywhere gets equally just a little bit warmer. What we will get in our own specific locality is very difficult to predict. 



It is not the warmth itself, but what warmth does.  It takes up more moisture and drives winds.  The "century" storms and floods are coming thick and fast these days.  Tornadoes are worse, tropical storms ditto.  In UK unseasonal storms like when trees are in full leaf rather than the usual late autumn and spring storms.  The jet stream does not follow its predictable pattern any more and the sea ice is getting less salty due to polar ice melts which could affect the warm gulf stream sea current and with it the mild UK winters.  It is unusual weather and unpredictable weather more of the time.  Unusually hot and dry, unusually cold, wet and windy at other times.  Fortunately UK is at the mild end of 'weather' on the globe, so a worsening is not immediately dramatic.  But where the usual drought becomes a three year drought and stops agriculture or burns large swathes of a country every summer, the usual monsoon rains now flood large parts of a country and the usual spring tornadoes occur over a longer time with more devastation, generally when more people are killed due to weather on the globe every year, then we see what global warming does.  It is not the warming as such that is the problem. 

There isn't just 'climate' any more, we are getting more 'weather' if that isn't too general as a shorthand description.    :BangHead:

Beersmith

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Re: No dig system and the moon
« Reply #19 on: December 16, 2018, 12:30:05 »


But the difficulty is that it definitely does not mean that everywhere gets equally just a little bit warmer. What we will get in our own specific locality is very difficult to predict. 



It is not the warmth itself, but what warmth does.


Yes indeed.  You highlight one of the most important issues. Warmer air can hold more moisture, and warmer oceans can generate deeper depressions and more violent tropical storms.

Another worrying issue is rising sea levels. Partly due to ice melt, where the ice sits on land mass like Greenland, but also thermal expansion. Only a little each year, but it is cumulative and when high tides and storms coincide it is the extra inches that breach the sea defences.  That is sea defences for wealthy western nations. If you live in Bangladesh more than 10% of the total land area is no more than 1 metre above sea level so chances are that over time your home will disappear entirely.
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