It’s called “charming”, but it’s more like “annoying the heck out of creatures until they move.”
Typically held on a Saturday in June, the World Worm Charming Championship is an annual event in Willaston, Great Britain. Contestants are given a 3′ by 3′ plot of land and thirty minutes, during which they attempt to draw worms out from the soil.
The mechanism is vibration, and the means of delivering that vibration varies greatly. Many stick garden forks into the ground and wiggle the forks. Some beat the ground with rods. Some play musical instruments. Some dance.
There is no digging. Digging gets a team disqualified.
Each team consists of three people: a charmerer, a pickerer, and a counterer. There is no “grammarianer”. While some of the tasks seem easy, worms can sometimes emerge at a rate which makes accurate counts difficult and plucking them from the ground too early often results in two halves of a worm… both of which are disqualified from the count. It’s the charmerer who gets the glory, though.
Experts (there are experts) agree that moist soil produces the best results. To that end, some contestants will soak the ground during their session, using everything from water to beer to sugar solutions. To minimize the possibility of worm harm, nothing toxic is allowed, and the judges enforce this rule by requiring contestants to sip from their saturation fluids before the event begins.
The protection of the worms is taken seriously. After each event, the worms are returned to the earth… but they’re not put back until dark, after the local birds have gone to roost.
The current world record of 567 worms was set in 2009 by Sophie Smith, who was a mere ten years old at the time. It must be said: she was an unusually charming young girl.
Question of the night: What’s your most successful gardening experience?