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.
The fruit will now be all cut from the early houses, and no pains should be spared to keep the foliage healthy and fresh to the last. Red-spider must be prevented by frequent vigorous syringings, and the Vines nourished by keeping the borders moist. Give abundance of air, and do not allow laterals to grow so as to crowd the main foliage and wood. Grapes intended to be kept through the winter should now be carefully examined; and if any of the bunches have not been thinned sufficiently, lose no time in completing this operation before the berries get anything like jammed. The bunches should be more severely thinned out than those that are to be used before winter. If this month should be dry and bright, all Vines swelling off crops should be well watered two or three times; and if the borders are not mulched, they should be, with good substantial farmyard manure. Red - spider is a most formidable enemy to Vines in dry summers, and there is perhaps no better preventive of the pest than well-watered and well-nourished borders. Next to no fire-heat will now be required to keep vineries warm enough; still, in dull damp weather, put a little heat into the pipes so as to keep the air buoyant and in motion, and do not let Muscats fall much below 70° at night.
And, except for an hour or so after vineries are shut up and damped after a hot day, never close the ventilators by night or day, but always leave them open to the extent of 3 or 4 inches at the front of the house. Remove all young lateral growths as they appear; and if red-spider appears give it no quarter, but attack it at once with sponges and clean water, and if pure water can be had, even syringe the foliage freely for a few days in succession. Young Vines not yet in bearing, but intended to bear next year, should be stopped when they reach to the top of the house, and their lateral growth to a couple of leaves at each joint - one of which should be removed when the wood begins to turn brown and harden. Young Vines planted this spring will now be making rapid growth. Attend carefully to them two or three times weekly, and tie them to the wires, removing all tendrils and growth except what is sufficient to cover the roof without crowding the foliage. It is not yet too late to plant young Vines if borders and everything can be got ready by the middle of the month.
A season will be gained in planting young healthy Vines now instead of next spring, for there is plenty of time to have fine strong canes by the end of October. If pot-Vines have been forwarded as directed in former Calendars, they will now be strong canes with plump buds, and the bottom part of them changing to a brownish hue. Give them plenty of air. Never let them suffer for want of water, and do not let them make much lateral growth, but take every precaution to keep their leaves healthy to the last; for unless they ripen thoroughly, without damaged foliage, they cannot be in good condition for early forcing next season.
Late Grapes that are colouring this month in localities where the rainfall may be small, should not be allowed to suffer for want of water; for, as the colouring process goes on, the fruit increases much in size, and a great demand is made on the Vines. If old Vines, and the border be at all dry, give them a thorough soaking, and if with weak manure-water, all the better. Assist them in the colouring and ripening process with a well-balanced amount of fire-heat, according to the state of the weather. The air should be kept continually in motion, by having the house constantly open more or less at top and bottom; and whenever the weather is sunless or cold, keep the pipes always warm. Unless Grapes are thoroughly ripened by the end of this month, they do not keep well, and are never well flavoured. Examine the foliage minutely, and see that red-spider does not get a footing; for in autumn, when fire-heat is necessary, and less moisture is applied, the pest thrives and injures the foliage. The best way to deal with it now is to syringe it off the leaves whenever it is detected.
The inside borders of houses where Grapes are to hang late should now be watered if dry, and then be covered over either with clean straw or dry mushroom-bed manure, to prevent them drying quickly again, and to keep the air dry. Look over the Vines, and remove all lateral growths, if any have been allowed during the process of stoning, and up to the colouring period. It is now desirable that a free play of air should be allowed about every leaf and bunch. Look over ripe Grapes weekly, and remove any shrivelled or decaying berries, and keep the house cool and dry. If wasps or flies attack the Grapes, lose no time in putting hexagon netting over the ventilating openings. As we have often directed, let the borders of all Vines from which the fruit has just been cut be examined, and if the roots are not found near the surface, remove the old inert soil down to the roots, and replace it with fresh loam, bone-meal, and manure, so that while the foliage is yet healthy on the Vines, the roots may bite upwards. As this has in some districts been a cold and wet summer, it may be necessary to apply fire - heat after the crop is all cut, in order to thoroughly ripen the wood, without which all other points are useless.
Pot - Vines intended to be started in December should be shortened back to the length desired, and be placed in some cool airy position. See that they do not at any time suffer from becoming over-dry at the root. Young vigorous-growing Vines that were planted last and this year should be fired until the wood is hard and brown. If the lateral growths of these are at all crowded, shorten them back to let light and air play about all their parts, but do not remove much foliage suddenly. Now is a good time to get and stack loam, that may be required for new borders for another season.
If the leaves are not all off late Vines on which crops of Grapes are hanging, they should be removed before decomposition takes place in the leaves and their footstalks. Look over the bunches weekly and remove all mouldy berries. Do not let the night-temperature fall below 45°, nor rise above 50° with fire-heat. During the prevalence of damp fogs, keep the front lights closed, warm the pipes slightly, and keep a little air on the top. When a fine bright day occurs, put a little extra heat into the pipes, and ventilate freely, so as to expel damp. If it be necessary to put plants requiring water into the vinery, the best way is to cut the whole of the Grapes, and bottle them in some cool dry room where an equable temperature can be maintained: then the Vines can be pruned and kept cool. Where ripe Hamburgs and other early sorts are required for use early in May, some good pot-Vines should now be started. It is not necessary to ripen early Grapes before May, now that we have so many good Grapes that will hang and keep in bottles so well in spring; nor is it desirable to strain permanent Vines by starting them in the dead of winter, when the first crop can be taken so easily and well from pot-Vines. In starting these early pot-Vines, keep the atmosphere moist; and in order to start them in time, it is necessary to keep them at 60° till the buds are fairly moved, when a few degrees less at night, and a few degrees more by day, should be given till the blooming period; when, in order to ripen them at the given time, the temperature should be gradually increased as the sun gains power and the daylight lengthens.
If a gentle bottom-heat from fermenting leaves can be given, all the better, but it should not exceed 75°. Put the house of permanent Vines, to be started by the end of this or beginning of next month, in order. If a bed of fermenting material can be placed on the inside border, it is an excellent means of supplying heat and moisture, and it saves fuel. Prune and otherwise get ready for starting succession houses. Where there have not been any insects, such as thrip or spider, last season, do not scrape the Vines much; but if there has been either, remove all loose bark, scrub the Vines well with soapy water, and then dress with Gishurst's Compound, at the rate of 12 ounces to the gallon of water. Where there is mealy-bug on the Vines scrape them rather severely, and scrub them with a hard brush and soft-soapy water. Fill up every crevice about the spurs with styptic, and then dress with Gishurst's Compound, in which some hellebore-powder is mixed. This and careful watching, and hand - picking in spring when the Vines begin to grow, is the safest and surest remedy for this worst of all pests (except phylloxera) on Vines. Now is a good time to prepare for making new Vine-borders. The first thing to secure is a site from which all water passes as soon as it reaches it.
For good and permanent results a rather heavy loam is preferable; and the less manure, except bones and horn-shavings, that is mixed with it the better. The manuring should afterwards be supplied on the surface, when the Vines get into full bearing.