This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
I can thoroughly corroborate the remarks in the leading article of your August number, on the feeding of Vines in general and the setting of Muscats. Having annually practised the same manner of mulching all our Vine-borders for the last five or six years, the roots of the Vines are now running all over the border within 3 inches of its surface : previously not one could be found nearer it than a foot.
The Vines under my care are nearly forty years old, and I would not advise any one to adopt the common practice of uprooting old Vines in order to substitute young ones, if they showed signs of moderate vigour; for from these old Vines, after five years of rich top-dressings, there has this season been cut bunches weighing 5 lb., and the average weight all over was 2 1/2 lb.
I have advocated low night-temperatures, as I consider it only a waste of both fuel and vegetable force, if I may so term it, to force with high night-temperatures. But after several years' trial of this system, we are convinced that a set of Muscats is more certainly secured with a rather high temperature. Our former temperatures for Muscats at the blooming period ranged from 55° to 60°, according to the state of the weather. Under this temperature some bunches set very fairly; but this season they set very much better with fully 5° more heat. Besides, our best set bunches have always been at the hottest part of the vinery. At one particular place there is a hot-water tank and a flue passing up the wall, and near to this hot part our best set bunches have always been found. The damping of the house is never stopped when the Vines are in bloom, and I do not consider a very dry atmosphere necessary; but certainly my experience points to a rather high temperature for the greater part of the twenty-four hours of the day when Muscats are in bloom.
J. W. B.