This section is from the book "The Gardener V2", 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 system of filling Vine-borders with healthy fibrous roots (as promulgated by Mr Thomson), instead of encouraging them to cross rapidly through the porous soil, will prove beneficial to growers in many ways not generally recognised. One important fact is, that where fibre is abundant the quality of the fruit is of the highest order, and its keeping properties are greatly improved. This is not only applicable to the Grape, but also to the Apple and Pear; and we could give many instances of certain kinds which have entirely changed their character, both in appearance and taste, since they have been lifted, and stones packed tightly in the soil round the extremities of the roots, which have produced abundance of fibre. A number of Vines here have been lifted at various times, and stones, etc, been made tight in front of the roots, to prevent them from getting quickly in among the fruit-tree roots in front of the borders, and have given much satisfaction. The Golden Hamburg keeps almost equal to the Black Hamburg, while others of the golden kind, which have made roots in the usual vigorous way (long, white, and spongy), are discarded as failures. The only difference that can be observed between the "failures and successes" is fibry roots matted in the prepared border, and vice versa.
We have tried some experiments with Grapes, by testing their keeping qualities; and those which have been treated so that they produced abundance of fibry roots, are easily kept in good condition. Among the sorts are Black Hamburg, Muscat Hamburg, White Muscat, Marchioness of Hastings, Trebbiano, West St Peter's, Burchardt's Prince, and Black Lady Downes. These have all been examined and tasted on the 4th of March, and were nearly equal in appearance and sweeter to taste than in September. The Muscats, though quite plump, began to fall off the stalks when shaken. The Hamburgs were a little shrivelled, but sugary. Burchardt's Prince is a capital Grape, and is not known as it deserves. The Marchioness of Hastings and Trebbiano are still bright yellow, and the foot-stalks quite green. The Lady Downes improves daily. Late-kept Grapes, with nothing more than the novelty to recommend them, are not worth house-room! What we expect in late Grapes is freshness, good flavour, and colour, which, we think, can be secured with early and thorough ripening. Abundance of fibre (instead of large white roots) does much to secure this. Brown Grapes, nicknamed Blacks, and Whites changed to Browns, as if they had been carried about in a schoolboy's pocket, are offensive, either on a public or private table.