As I am slowly easing myself back into the hobby I prefer to work on smaller scales usually cutting things in halves or quarter. If things go well, I'll still find satisfaction in the outcome and if things go bad or contam I've saved time and materials and possibly won't shed tears (or as many tears).
I prefer whole grain brown rice or WBR - it's fast prep and can be easily steam sterilized if no PC (like the below jars) or it can be PC'd also. It's always been quick to colonize(for me) and it's easy to shake. I've always thought of WBR as the best option for a "starter" grain or for people who don't want to do BRF cakes anymore and want to try grains but don't want all the prep work that some grains need before they can be sterilized.
Small scale also - 4 half pints = 1 quart so I prefer to load wide mouth half pints and get them colonized as quickly as possible. I also like the twist top plastic containers which equal out to about pint size if completely full. I put about 1.5 - 1.75 cups of WBR in each of these. So 2 come close to equaling a quart but not quite.
Multispore syringes of TC (treasure coast) and GT (golden teacher) were inoculated on 10/18 to steam sterilized whole grain brown rice. I prepare my rice by rinsing in hot top water bringing water to boil on stove while I rinse - once water is boiling dump in grain, stir, set timer for 12 minutes - I don't cover and turn heat down so it's a light rolling boil and stir often. Rinse with cold water very well and drain very well.
I use all kinds of jar lid styles but for these I used one hole in center covered with micropore tape (provides a label too). To inoculate meant I had to remove and lift the lid in the SAB to inject the spores and since they are two piece lids I just tape across so when I lift the lid both pieces lift together and stay together. It's an old trick I learned here.
These colonized fairly quickly for MS and have been done for about 5 days I just couldn't get around to spawning until today.
I mainly use horse manure and straw for bulk substrates. I am not a fan of vermiculite and I won't be using vermiculite now or moving forward unless I find I absolutely need it as a cut in my bulk. I am also going to try non-cased bulks - but if I find my subs are suffering or the pins or fruiting conditions are not doing well I may have to case.
To keep things simple and small scale (like the title says) I'll be using straight coir and worm castings - half a brick of coir with 1 cup of castings hyrdrated and mixed with 2.5 quarts of boiling water. Mixed well and hydrated for 1 hour. Then loaded into quart jars loosely covered with foil to pasteurize in oven for 2 hours. Ended up with 4 quarts and a half because I eyeballed the half brick of coir.
Small scale also means I will be spawning to small tubs. Dub Tubs are my preferred and I automate mine when they go to fruiting using air pump with tubing on a timer. These are 6qt sterilite tubs and I will add the top tub once it's colonized and ready to fruit.
I do not use plastic inside my tubs though I may if side pinning becomes a major problem. I don't think it will and these are small enough it won't matter much.
When I spawn my grain to my substrate I layer and mix within different levels of the tub. Grain always goes in first on bottom with small amount of the bulk coir/casting mix just enough to coat the grains and level them out in the bottom. About 1/2 inch on bottom in these tubs today using 1 of the half pints with 1/2 of coir/castings. Next 2 of the half pints are crumbled and mixed with 1 quart of castings and leveled out. My leveling skills have suffered and I didn't get these as even as I used to. Practice will make perfect later on (I hope). Final 4th half pint is then crumbled and evenly placed as a top layer with minimal to no mixing in the mixed layer below. It's like frosting my prior layer mix on a cake. That is leveled then last half of quart jar of castings/coir is leveled but left fluffy on top. Today I added the leftover half quart in the bowl to this tub to give a thicker top bulk layer. I don't like this too much because it's possible it won't colonize from the bottom layer if it is too thick.
The GT tub had a bit less spawn than the TC's but were built in a similar way as above (the above is how I always spawned mixed and layered in tubs) but with the TC's I mixed 1 jar with 1 quart of coir/castings on bottom then added the half of the last quart on top and leveled - because these are small tubs it creates a small layer of bulk sub the mycelium can easily colonize (or so I hope). Next is solid layer of 2nd jar crumbled and evenly spread and kept thick and even as I can (I didn't do this well at all) and the last half quart of the coir/castings is then laid on top of the grain layer.
Lids are snapped on and labeled and I wrap each tub in a large black trash bag like a blanket ( I don't open them I just fold the bag around) and stack them. I'll check them in a week just to make sure they're not green or anything. Hopefully be fully or at least 80% colonized in a week.
Oh, my bottom tubs, I drill 3 holes in the handle ends right above the sub level and cover with micropore tape. Depending on humidity or moisture level I can easily remove if I need more air during fruiting.
Hopefully these go well but of course only time will tell.