Let's face it -- with vacations, camps, activities, reunions and now school on the horizon, summer gets out of control. And when you're feeling like life is out of control, chances are the garden isn't far behind.

From a distance, my garden looks amazing: The plants are big, green and lush. But get a little closer and you'll see that there's a turf war going on. The tomatoes grew bigger than I thought they would and now overshadow the banana peppers, which can barely get enough light to grow. (Yes, I've pruned my tomatoes, but they are unstoppable.)

On the other end, the cucumbers are taking on a life of their own by attaching themselves to everything around them, already snuffing out a couple of bell pepper plants and a sunflower. The least they could do is bear fruit,

The tomatoes are all green in my garden.

The tomatoes are all green in my garden.

but that hasn't happened yet either.

On the fruit side of the garden, a cantelope plant is trailing nicely on a trellis, but has spilled out onto the lawn and is infringing on the strawberries. And everyone knows that strawberries are the definition of mayhem.

Much of this I attribute to novice mistakes:

1. I overplanted. I always figured that the spacing requirements were just guidelines, and since I never had enough faith in my gardening abilities, figured more was always better. Not the case.

2. I didn't make my garden big enough. I didn't want to bite off more than I can chew. Turns out I can chew more than I thought I could.

3. I didn't do my homework. I should have read up on what I wanted to plant and where I should plant them. I went with my heart, and that's never a good idea. I also need to learn how to take care of the plants beyond the basics, and troubleshoot issues like why are my canteloupe leaves are turning white.

4. Thinning really is important. Pulling carrots should be interesting -- they might be braided at this point.

There are so many things to learn, but there are some things going right: there's not a weed to be found in my garden, and I walked back to the house yesterday munching on grape tomatoes that tasted like sunshine.

What are lessons that you've learned along the way?