This section is from the book "The Gardener V3", 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.
This is perhaps the most trying month of the year for Grapes that are still hanging. If they can be. successfully kept during the time the Vines are shedding their foliage, there is not much fear of them after. If the outside borders have not been covered, as previously advised, it will be a great advantage to do so now. Look carefully over every bunch two or three times weekly and remove every sign of decaying berries, and if the leaves are still hanging to the Vines and come away with a light touch, remove them all. There should not be a plant requiring water in the Vinery where Grapes are required to hang successfully. Where there is no alternative but to place plants under Grapes it is best to cut the bunches with a portion of the wood attached, and place them in bottles of water with a little charcoal in them, in a dry room of an equable temperature of 45°. Grapes keep pretty well in this way, but the flavour suffers. Avoid the yet too common and absurd practice of making fires, and at the same time opening the ventilators in damp or wet days, when the house should instead be kept quite close with just a slight heat in the pipes. The time to apply extra heat is on fine days when the house can be fully ventilated to let out damp.
In cold, weather keep the temperature steady, at about 45°. Vines intended to be forced before the end of February will be benefited by having their outside borrters protected from drenching rains. A good plan in the case of those not to be started till February is to cover the border with a thin layer of leaves, and then cover with wooden shutters or tarpauliug. Prune all Vines from which the leaves have fallen and the fruit is cut, and clean and dress them, and otherwise prepare the Vineries for starting as advised last month. Introduce a bed of fermenting leaves and litter into the inside of Vineries to be started by the end of the month, and when it begins to heat turn a portion of it daily: the heat so generated keeps up the temperature for a time, at first without much firing, and the steam so created is favourable to the swelling buds. It will be well also to cover the outside border with a sufficient depth of leaves and stable-litter, which, if it does not put much heat into the border, will at any rate prevent radiation.
Start the Vines with a temperature of 55°, and sling the tops of the Vines down to the same level or below that of the top of the front lights, thus bringing the tops of the Vines into the same temperature as their lower parts, otherwise the Vines will be apt to break at the top before the bottom buds push, and the latter will in consequence be weaker. Do not increase the temperature in the case of pot-Vines that have been put into heat last month. Take every advantage of any sunshine that may occur, and shut up the house under its influence, and so lessen the amount of fire-heat. Whenever the Vines burst their buds, which they will produce two at an eye, cut off the weakest as soon as it can be done. See that all boilers and pipes are in proper working order in succession Vineries before they are required.