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.
Late Grapes intended to hang through the winter should be quite ripe by the middle of the month, for if ripened later in the season with less sun, they do not keep so well. Assist the process, when necessary, with a little fire-heat and a circulation of warm dry air, leaving a little air on all night, so as to prevent any moisture settling on the bunches. In keeping Grapes successfully, it is of great importance that the foliage be healthy as long as possible. And if there be any red-spider about the Vines in patches, as is not unfrequent, get rid of it at once; and it is questionable if there be any more effectual as well as speedy way of doing this, as by sponging with clean water. In wet localities, where heavy autumn rains prevail, cover the outside border with shutters or tarpaul-ing so as to throw off the superabundant wet. And as it is now desirable to keep the inside of the vineries drier, let the surface of the border be gently forked up, and a sprinkling of old mushroom - bed manure be sprinkled over it to the depth of an inch, first sifting it rather finely. This will prevent the evaporation of moisture, and prevent the border from cracking. Look over-ripe crops, and cut out all berries that show any signs of decay.
Keep the Vines free from lateral growths, and the main foliage healthy to the last. The early part of this month is a good time to remove the inert surface-soil from borders down to the roots, replacing it with fresh turfy loam mixed with horse-droppings, and a little old lime-rubbish or charcoal. There is no better way of attracting and keeping roots near the surface than this. As this summer has been moist and sunless in many districts, it may be necessary to fire vineries from which the fruit has just been cut in order to assist in more thoroughly ripening the wood. A circulation of warm dry air should be kept up till the wood is thoroughly ripened and hard. Vines from which fruit was cut in April and May, will be ready to prune by the end of the month; and if intended for early forcing again, it should be no longer delayed. After pruning, they should be kept as cool as possible, and all repairs or painting requisite should be done before the weather becomes unfavourable for such work. Young vigorous - growing Vines that were planted last and this year must be fired and kept warm till the wood is perfectly brown and matured.
The stronger they are, the more of this treatment they will require to thoroughly ripen them, without which condition they will show loose unsatisfactory bunches next season. Remove all young growths as they appear, and if they have been allowed to make anything of a rambling lateral growth, remove as much of it as will admit a free play of light and air about all the foliage and wood, but by all means avoid the too common practice of removing foliage wholesale and suddenly. See last month's directions regarding Pot-Vines.
November is perhaps the most critical month for Grapes of the whole keeping season. Damping off is generally a greater enemy now than in the following months. Look carefully over the bunches at least three times weekly, and remove every berry that shows the least signs of decay, for one mouldy berry destroys many more. Hamburgs especially require this care. Make fires sufficient to warm the pipes slightly on the morning of fine days, giving air at the same time, so as to expel the damp. The practice of making fires only in damp days is productive of more evil than good. It just causes the moisture to condense on the cold surface of the berries, instead of, as on fine days, sending it out of the house. When frost occurs, keep the temperature about 45°. There should not be a plant requiring water in vineries where fruit is hanging in winter, although this is advice easier given than practised in those days of numberless plants. Prune all Vines that have cast their leaves, remove all the loose bark and dress them, and otherwise clean the vineries as directed last month.
Presuming that the early vinery has been pruned and otherwise prepared for starting this month as directed in former Calendars, a quantity of leaves mixed with a little stable - litter should now be formed into a bed or ridge in the centre of the house. This will soon ferment and heat, and a portion of it should be turned over every day so as to create a little steam or moisture. This body of warm material will, in ordinary weather, keep the temperature sufficiently high, with little or no firebeat. Where this can be practised, it is by far the surest way of getting Vines to break regularly and strongly at this season; and if the roots are inside, they also derive some warmth from the bed. The outside border should be thoroughly covered up with 2 feet of leaves and litter, and either thatched or covered with shutters to throw off the rains. Sling down the Vines from the rafters, so that the top part of them be brought into the same temperature as the lower parts, which will assist in getting them to start more regularly over their whole length. Syringe them gently twice a-day with tepid water. Pot-Vines started last month may still be kept at 55° at night until they break, when they will require 5° more heat.
In their case make the most of every ray of sunshine that occurs, as in all forcing the less artificial heat used to keep up a given temperature the better. Examine the outlet or main drains from all Vine-borders, and see that they are acting properly. In wet districts it is an excellent plan to cover the whole of the outside borders with wooden shutters, or some material that will effectually protect the border and roots from rains. We believe that in the course of a few years corrugated iron, the same as is used for roofing, would prove the cheapest material that could be used. See that all heating apparatus is in tight repair and acting properly before severe weather sets in.