Experiment Exposes Cucumbers’ Love for Rock and Loathing for Jazz

It is with great pleasure that we inform you of an unconventional, yet scientifically sound experiment that was conducted.

It has been concluded that cucumbers, when exposed to various external stimuli (sound, scent, and touch) during their stages of growth, result in different shapes, textures, and tastes. Perhaps the most surprising findings of this study conducted by Graham Brown of the University of Sydney, were that:

  • Cucumbers like Rock music the most, and apparently detest Jazz
  • They enjoy the scent of Dill and may prefer being pickled,
  • Are more tender and sweeter when they spend the night in a mini sleeping bag

Cucumbers revealed to be highly sensitive to sound, scent and touch. Hendrick’s Gin has conducted a somewhat unorthodox, but genuinely scientific experiment with cucumber scientist Graham Brown of the University of Sydney to quantify the true sensitivity of cucumbers – and the results revealed today are astonishing. Exhibiting traits usually associated with sentient beings, the green fruits show undeniably impressive abilities for reacting to outside stimuli, and grow larger and juicier as a result of unconventional caring methods, indicating they are acutely aware of their surroundings.

The gin-maker is now inviting budding botanists to join in a global experiment to cultivate the most flavoursome cucumber, taking inspiration from the avant-garde caring techniques used by Graham, in time for World Cucumber Day on June 14.

Music appreciation

As they grew from blind seedling to majestic maturity, three groups of cucumbers were exposed to a particular genre of music: classical, jazz or rock, using a CD boombox at maximum volume. A fourth group sat in uncomfortable silence. The cucumbers that listened to rock produced measurably larger, better-tasting fruits, cylindrical in shape, with no curving and smooth dark green skin. In stark contrast the jazz plants showed disdain for their music by producing malformed fruits with curved and pointed edges. The plants exposed to classical melodies displayed a tangible fondness for it, growing healthy and shiny skinned after listening to Beethoven and Bach. Mr. Brown comments: “We knew plants sense and respond to acoustic energy, such as soundwaves using the trichomes, or hairs, on their fruits and leaves, but we weren’t expecting them to display such a definitive taste in music. Dry matter accumulation (the build-up of physical mass) was highest in the rock music treatment, indicated by the fact the plants grew larger as they were able to harness more light and photosynthesise more. The extra growth, perhaps triggered by hormones, gave a more bountiful harvest of larger and juicier fruit. Malformed fruits in the jazz treatment may indicate that the nutrients and water supplies were interrupted by the genre’s jaunty soundwaves.”

Favoured perfumes

Not only do cucumbers love music, but they also show preferences for certain scents, despite having no conventional sensory receptors associated with smell (AKA a nose). Growing specimens were divided into three groups, one spritzed with dill, another with sage and the final group was left scent free. After snacking upon the subjects, it was observed that those spritzed with dill were the tastiest, while sage made them bitter, perhaps indicating that cucumbers derive some type of satisfaction from pickling. Mr. Brown explains: “Plants can sense chemicals in the air, such as volatiles released during grazing by herbivores and respond by increasing production of protective chemicals. When growing cucumbers, it would be wise to avoid wearing or spritzing anything too harsh in scent near your subjects, to prevent the cucumbers absorbing it. You don’t want a cucumber that tastes like your aftershave, after all.”

Cucumber swaddling

The final test saw subjects bundled into tiny sleeping bags for added protection and comfort, resulting in their skin growing softer and lighter, and their flesh sweeter compared to those left naked and exposed. Graham explains: “It would appear that by protecting the growing skin from the drying atmosphere and light, the fruits are tender and sweeter.” Furthermore, the humble green fruits use a developed sense of touch to help them grow, using their tendrils to feel and reach for surfaces to hold onto for support, particularly at night. It seems they are aware of their surroundings and can sense objects nearby.

Cucumbers

It’s not just cucumbers that are more sensitive than we realised. Previous studies have proven plants have 20 different senses, compared to humans’ five, and they are inherently intelligent, communicating with the world and one another using electric signals, giving off warning signs when in danger, and building relationships with other species and insects to survive and prosper. Graham, who has investigated and bred plants for over 30 years, began working with cucumbers ten years ago in his research lab in Sydney, where he has every scientific contraption available to measure the plants’ reactions to the outside world. This research helped Hendrick’s Gin to develop a more meaningful understanding of its preferred garnish. Individuals can now put Graham’s findings to the test, and probe their own imaginative hypotheses by singing to the fruits as they grow or reading the young seedlings classical literature at night time. By cultivating and pampering their own cucumbers, green-fingered individuals will play their part in celebrating World Cucumber Day – an annual celebration inviting people to embrace the unusual in honour of the remarkable and virtuous green fruit.

Duncan McRae, Hendrick’s Gin Global Ambassador, says: “We have always held the cucumber in the highest regard – our gin is infused with cucumber and rose, after all. So we are delighted to invite individuals, who share our dark passion for the green fruit, to join our voyage of discovery. We bid people everywhere to uncover the true extent of its sensitivity, by growing or adopting one themselves and devising their own experimentations to satisfy their own natural curiosity. We hope all our gardeners form extraordinary bonds with their cucumber as they tend to it in the most imaginative of fashions, and that they are sure to take notes on the cucumber’s responses. To assure scientific objectivity, we’ll be inviting everyone to taste their results by way of a special Hendrick’s & tonic on World Cucumber Day.”

Those growing their cucumber plants at home will be assisted by a series of cultivation tips devised by Graham, such as how to pollinate the flowers with a soft paintbrush to ensure the crop of cucumber fruits is plentiful and placing bamboo sticks around the crop to give them a structure to climb. For those with limited time, help is quite literally at hand via the Hendrick’s Cucumber Adoption Service. This novel technology evokes memories of the 90s Japanese digital pets, but with a refreshing horticulturalist twist. Over three months, green-fingered adopters will be able to plant, nurture and harvest a cucumber via Facebook. Throughout the nurturing period, the Hendrick’s Cucumber Adoption Service will send photos and videos of the plants to their proud owners and impart stimulating cucumber wisdom and trivia to enthrall and entertain.

Cucumbers

About Graham Brown

Graham Brown is a research associate at the University of Sydney, where he has been an integral research scientist in the Plant Breeding Institute since 1973, growing stronger species by discovering and breeding desirable traits into native plants. Around ten years ago Graham began breeding cucumbers and has been testing their responses to outside stresses to discover how they can continue to thrive in the harsh Australian climate. His research laboratory is packed with every scientific contraption available to measure cucumbers’ reactions to the outside world, and his greenhouse contains an abundance of beautiful, high-reaching cucumber plants. During his decade working with cucumbers, Graham has helped develop several specialist fruit varieties, including a four-inch cucumber, affectionately termed the ‘cutecumber’ as well as the most Australian Cucumber, nurtured on emu dung, Simpson desert soil, and the calcium of yabby shells. When not in his laboratory, Graham has a taste for hunting the weirdest and most wonderful plants in the world. He has travelled to far-reaching corners to find the strangest flowers and vegetables he can use in his breeding research. Of late Graham has travelled to Pakistan, the geographical origin of the cucumber, to discover the wildest species; to Puglia where he collected the heirloom cucumber seeds to bring back to Australia; he’s gone foraging in the Australian outback to collect native celery and rummaged for the Wild Campanula flower – also known as the ‘Creeping Campanula’ – near Portofino in Italy.

Cucumbers

Cucumber Cultivation and Bonding Tips

Cultivation tips from Graham Brown

Seedling
  1. Place your darling tiny seeds in a small plant pot (around 8-cm deep). When they reach a height of 10cm/4” they are ready to move house: plant them in larger pots (at least 20cm/8” deep) or in garden beds.
  2. As a young plant, a cucumber only needs watering three times a week. Keep the soil around the cucumber plant evenly damp, but do be careful (as I know you will be) to avoid overwatering.
  3. Place your cucumber plant next to bamboo sticks, as they love to climb.
  4. Cucumbers love being warm – wrap them up in a bag during colder evenings. This will keep them happy, and keep their skin sweet.
  5. Your perfume is divine to us humans, but please keep it away from your cucumber plants as strong scents cause them stress.
Mid grown
  1. As the plants grow larger they require more watering – around four times a week depending on the pot size and temperature. If the leaves are wilting, more regular watering is required. As with humans, an under-watered cucumber will grow bitter.
  2. Cucumbers are greedy! Treat them with manure fortnightly. This will increase your cucumber yield, and keep your plant happy and tasty.
  3. Remove old leaves from the base of your plant. This helps your plant grow.
  4. Cucumbers need bees, but if you are growing your plant inside be your own bee, and dab some pollen from flower to flower using a soft brush.
  5. Cucumbers do not like loud noises – however evidence suggests they do enjoy both rock and classical music. And no, I didn’t make that up.

Hendrick’s cucumber bonding tips

Seedling
  1. Cucumber seedlings love horror stories, but don’t read them anything too spooky or they won’t be able to sleep.
  2. Despite what you may have heard, cucumber seedlings are excellent conversationalists. If your seedling is quiet, it may be due to shyness; encourage the little one by whispering how much you love and appreciate it.
  3. Looking to bond with your cucumber seedling? Fell walking is an activity you may both enjoy – but do be mindful of strong winds.
  4. A seance is an excellent way to entertain your cucumber seedling. When meddling with forces you don’t understand, be sure to wear a sturdy hat.
  5. If you are taking your cucumber seedling out for the evening, remember that they love Ballet héroïque (a form of opéra ballet). Be sure to bring a handkerchief as they tend to cry at the sad bits.
Mid-grown
  1. A middle-aged cucumber loves nothing more than a quiet night in with you – and perhaps a couple of gherkin friends. If your cucumber offers a clarinet recital, it’s best to refuse, as they are notoriously bad at playing the clarinet.
  2. For a practical joke, dress your cucumber as a courgette. WARNING: This may lead to an identity crisis in sensitive cucumbers.
  3. Cucumbers have an excellent sense of humour – keep them entertained with a classic slapstick routine. REMEMBER: Do not attempt slapstick if you are not a trained professional.
  4. Middle-aged cucumbers love visiting art galleries, but do remember: most cucumbers find Impressionism a little ‘gauche’.
  5. Cucumbers make extremely loyal friends, but they do like to tease. If a cucumber says something that sounds offensive it is probably just sarcasm.
Harvest and garnish (fully-grown cucumber)
  1. Do you want the good news or the bad news first? The earlier the cucumbers are harvested, the smaller and more tender the seeds. They will also taste sweeter and juicier. Oh, and there’s no bad news.
  2. The cool calm of the early morning or evening is perfect for cucumber harvesting. The fruits can be kept fresh overnight by standing them stalk end down in a jug with a little water in it. You can keep yourself fresh overnight by reading poetry before bedtime and wearing silk pyjamas.
  3. Please do not yank your cucumbers when you harvest them from the plant. Instead snip them off with a pair of secateurs or a sharp knife. Do not use a cutlass.
  4. Once you have tasted your cucumber, cut 0.3-cm slices and then submerge them in your Hendrick’s & Tonic. If you wish to, you may then contemplate all that is marvellous in the universe.
  5. The Mesmadunion method of cucumber harvest & garnishment requires the following:
  • The harvester must wear a cloak, 3-foot winklepickers and a beak.
  • The cucumbers must be culled at dawn within a mile of a viaduct.
  • The cucumbers must be sliced with affection.
  • The slices must be dropped into the Hendrick’s & Tonic from an altitude of three miles.

Cucumbers

About Hendrick’s Gin

Hendrick’s Gin is a deliciously super premium gin, made with a number of unusual twists to deliver a most curious arrangement. Unlike ordinary gins, Hendrick’s Gin is distilled in Scotland, in miniscule batches of only 500 litres at a time. Only Hendrick’s Gin is made with infusions of cucumber and rose petals, alongside a blend of 11 botanicals, producing a wonderfully refreshing gin with a delightfully floral aroma. Hendrick’s Gin is made in a combination of a Carter-Head and copper pot still, creating a divinely smooth gin with both character and balance of subtle flavours.

About William Grant & Sons

William Grant & Sons Holdings Ltd is an independent family-owned distiller headquartered in the United Kingdom and founded by William Grant in 1887. Today, the global premium spirits company is owned by the fifth generation of his family and distils some of the world’s leading brands of Scotch whisky, including the world’s most awarded single malt Glenfiddich®, The Balvenie® range of handcrafted single malts and the world’s third largest blended Scotch, Grant’s®, as well as other iconic spirits brands such as Hendrick’s® Gin, Sailor Jerry®, Tullamore D.E.W.® Irish Whiskey, Monkey Shoulder.

Cucumbers

To be part of the World Cucumber Day experiment and grow or adopt a cucumber visit www.WorldCucumberDayExperiment.com.

Brilliant Green: the Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence, by plant neurobiologist (yes, plant neurobiologist), Stefano Mancuso and journalist, Alessandra Viola, makes a compelling and fascinating case not only for plant sentience and smarts, but also plant rights… Read More.

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